KHARTOUM, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Two rebel movements in Sudan's Darfur region urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to keep the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in the region, Sudan Tribune reported Thursday.
"UNAMID is considered the conclusive guarantee for the protection of civilians in Darfur, particularly that the government of Sudan renews its attacks in the region," Jibril Ibrahim, leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and Minni Arko Minnawi, leader of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), were quoted as saying in a message to the UNSC .
"Despite the conformations that there was a decline in the direct military confrontations in Darfur, this does not mean the conflict has ended or that the conflict would not escalate again. This is evident in the clashes which took place in May in North and East Darfur," they noted.
The two rebel leaders also explained that UNAMID's presence in Darfur would help protect the civilians and achieve peace and justice for the victims of violence.
"The government's calls for the withdrawal of the mission from the region is an attempt to remove the main international entity operating on the ground to monitor and resolve the standing conflict, and therefore, we hope the UNSC would continue its strong support for the mission in Darfur and also mandate it to take all necessary measures to fulfill its mandate in field of peacekeeping," they said.
On Wednesday, the UNSC discussed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' report on Darfur which endorsed two-phase reduction of the mission's military components in the region.
Guterres suggested withdrawal of 8 military battalions out of 16 in the first 6-month phase, with the withdrawal of the remaining battalions discussed by the beginning of next year.
UNAMID took over the peacekeeping task in Darfur from the African Union Mission in Sudan on Dec. 31, 2007.
The UNAMID is considered the second biggest peacekeeping mission in the world, after the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It consists of more than 20,000 military, police and civilian personnel, with a budget of 1.4 million U.S. dollars in 2013.