UN votes to cut UN-AU force in Sudan's Darfur region in half

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution that will dramatically cut the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan's vast western Darfur region in response to reduced fighting and improved security conditions.

The resolution adopted Friday by a vote of 15-0 looks ahead to "the eventual exit" of the joint force known as UNAMID.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. The government in Khartoum was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and unleashing them on civilian populations — a charge it denies.

The U.N.-AU force was established in 2007 with a mandate to help protect civilians.

The new resolution will cut UNAMID's troop strength from the current 8,735 to 4,050 by June 30, 2019.