7,000 U.N. Peacekeepers Headed for South Sudan

Troops en route to oversee transfer of keys to the kingdom.

Minister of Defense Abdel-Raheem Mohamed Hussein shakes hands with Southern officers during a party to commemorate the demobilization of 16,000 Southern soldiers serving with the Sudan Defense Force, in Khartoum July 7, 2011. (Photo: Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to send up to 7,000 military personnel, 900 international police, and an open number of human-rights experts and other U.N. civilian staff to South Sudan. The troops were approved ahead of Saturday's scheduled independence celebrations in South Sudan's capital Juba. The mainly ethnic south will officially break away from the Arab-dominated north on July 9.

Reports the Associated Press:

South Sudan's independence is the culmination of a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil war but there are fears the conflict could be reignited because troops from the north and south are facing off in the contested oil-rich border region of Abyei. Northern troops and forces loyal to the south are also fighting in Southern Kordofan, a state just over the border in the north.

South Sudan's split from the north will create Africa's newest nation. The Security Council had wanted peacekeepers on both sides of the new border, but the Khartoum government of what is still called Sudan insists that all U.N. troops move out of the north.

United Nations personnel in South Sudan will attempt to guide the new government in creating a constitution, holding elections, and establishing rule of law.

More than 2 million people are reported to have died during multiple Sudanese civil wars, which also caused more than 4 million to become internally displaced or refugees.

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