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|Sudan steps up pressure on Darfur
||Sudan steps up pressure on Darfur
(about 5 hours later)
Sudan has asked the African Union force attempting to keep the peace in Darfur to leave the country when its mandate ends at the end of September.
It has defied the United Nations Security Council and rejected a resolution passed on Thursday.
The resolution called for a 20,000-strong UN peacekeeping force to replace the African Union mission.
Instead Khartoum has moved thousands of troops to Darfur, and stepped up the offensive against rebel groups.
Those groups - the majority of Darfur's rebels - did not sign a peace agreement brokered in Nigeria in May.
For days now the UN has nervously monitored the planeloads of Sudanese troops arriving in North Darfur.
It was clear that preparations were under way for a major offensive.
|Planeloads of Sudanese soldiers are now arriving in Darfur||Planeloads of Sudanese soldiers are now arriving in Darfur|
Now the purpose of the build-up has become clear: the African Union is being asked to leave. The days of international peacekeeping are to end.
Khartoum is to settle the three-year-old rebellion on military terms.
There now seems no way that a UN force can be deployed in Darfur. The idea of UN forces fighting its way into this vast, remote region is hardly plausible.
That will leave the huge camps housing two million displaced people extremely exposed.
Despite May's peace deal, Khartoum remains at war with the bulk of the rebel groups in Darfur - which recently came together in a new grouping called the National Redemption Front.
Should the conflict escalate, the huge humanitarian effort to keep the displaced fed, clothed and provided for could collapse.
This was the nightmare warned of by the UN's emergency relief co-ordinator, Jan Egeland.
Less than a week ago he described the operation in Darfur as on the brink of collapse.
In a speech to the Security Council he warned that the work of the aid agencies could collapse because of a chronic lack of security. That prediction has just come a step closer to realisation.