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UN political mission in Sudan to end on Sunday

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A United Nations political mission in war-torn Sudan will end on Sunday after the U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to shut it down following a request from the country's acting foreign minister last month.

A war erupted on April 15 between the Sudanese army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces after weeks of rising tension between the two sides over a plan to integrate forces as part of a transition from military rule to civilian democracy.

The British-drafted resolution terminates the mandate of the U.N. mission, known as UNITAMS, on Dec. 3 and requires it to wind down over the next three months. UNITAMS was established by the 15-member council in June 2020 to provide support to Sudan during its political transition to democratic rule.

"We reiterate that the Sudanese authorities remain responsible for the safety and security of UNITAMS staff and assets during this transition and call for their full cooperation in allowing an orderly withdrawal," deputy British U.N. Ambassador James Kariuki told the council.

Violence against civilians in Sudan is "verging on pure evil," a senior United Nations official warned last month, as a humanitarian crisis in the country worsens and ethnic violence escalates in the western region of Darfur.

A U.N. country team providing humanitarian and development aid will remain in the country, where the U.N. says nearly 25 million people - half the population - need help.

"We affirm the government's readiness to continue constructive engagement with the U.N. by strengthening cooperation with a country team," Dafallah Alhaj, an envoy to Sudan's army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, told the council.

He said the delivery of humanitarian aid was a top priority.

The U.N. special envoy to Sudan announced in September that he was stepping down, more than three months after Sudan declared him unwelcome.

Last week U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed veteran Algerian diplomat Ramtane Lamamra as his personal envoy for Sudan. The Security Council resolution encourages all parties to cooperate with the envoy.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Sandra Maler)