Security Council makes Sudan priority at Nairobi summit

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The Independent Online

The United Nations Security Council will meet in Nairobi today, to discuss how to bring peace to areas of Africa riven by conflict.

The United Nations Security Council will meet in Nairobi today, to discuss how to bring peace to areas of Africa riven by conflict.

Top of the agenda is Sudan, where the international community is struggling to deal with Africa's longest-running civil war in the south, and one of the newest conflicts in the western region of Darfur.

During the two days of meetings in the Kenyan capital, the UN will put pressure on Sudan to implement a peace agreement that will bring an end to the 21-year civil war between government and rebel forces in the south of the country. The Security Council is expected to promise to release at least $100m (£53m) in aid money to the people of south Sudan if both sides can agree on finalising a peace deal signed in May.

Peace in southern Sudan is vital for the security of east Africa. The UN hopes a permanent peace deal will defuse tension in Darfur, and will also bring peace to northern Uganda - which has been caught up in south Sudan's war. In total five million displaced people would be able to move out of refugee camps and back to their homes if a deal was brokered. The UN will also debate whether to send its own peacekeepers to Darfur, where the Sudanese government is engaged in another war against its own people. Britain would be likely to contribute troops to the mission.

The Security Council decided to move away from its usual New York meeting place for only the fourth time in its history, to show how serious it is about ending the conflicts in and around Sudan. So far, the council has been divided on how tough to be with the Sudanese government: China, Russia, Pakistan and Algeria want to avoid focusing on Darfur, while the US and Britain want that conflict to take centre stage. Humanitarian organisations say the UN must make more than a "token" response this time, they must take decisive action to retain its credibility. "The response to the crisis in Darfur has been characterised by internal wrangling, months of delays and half-hearted action," said Caroline Nursey, Oxfam's regional director.

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