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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 March 2006, 03:33 GMT
UN speeds Darfur peace mission
Displaced Sudanese flee to neighbouring Chad
Millions of Sudanese have been displaced by the fighting
The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to speed up preparations for UN peacekeepers to be deployed to Darfur in western Sudan.

The council is calling on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to come up with a range of options within one month.

The African Union had been planning to keep its peacekeepers in Darfur until September and then hand the operation over to the UN.

But Sudan's government objects to the proposed handover.

The Security Council is asking Mr Annan to liaise with the African Union, Khartoum and the rebels to come up with a plan.

There is a sense of urgency that there are people dying...that needs to be stopped
Jean-Marie Guehenno, UN peacekeeping operations

"It's a real step forward in building peace across the entire country," Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said in a statement.

The resolution also extended the mandate of a separate UN peacekeeping mission in southern Sudan, which was due to expire on Friday.

Differences

Some 7,000 African Union peacekeepers are in Darfur, but the under-resourced troops have struggled to end the conflict that has so far left more than 100,000 people dead and millions more in overcrowded camps.

UN officials have said they will not send in troops to Darfur without the approval of the Sudanese government.

But Khartoum says it does not want UN troops in Darfur until a peace agreement is reached in talks taking place in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The head of UN peacekeeping operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno said: "There is a sense of urgency, I think from everybody, that there are people who are dying, that there is still violence in Darfur. That needs to be stopped."


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