UNITED NATIONS, Sep 25 (Reuters) The UN Security Council authorized today a European Union peacekeeping force and UN police to help protect civilians suffering from the spillover violence from neighboring Darfur.
The new force would attempt to block fighters from Sudan from crossing into a corner of the Central African Republic, according to the 10-page French-drafted resolution approved by a 15 to 0 vote.
EU defense ministers meet on Friday in Brussels to give a final go-ahead for the deployment of up to 4,000 troops by the end of the year beginning next month. The United Nations would field up to 300 police, 50 military liaison officers and civilian personnel.
The conflict that flared in Sudan's western Darfur region four years ago after rebels took up arms against Khartoum has led to refugees being driven into neighboring countries by attacks by pro-government militia, called Janjaweed.
This has created havoc in Chad and the Central African Republic and played into existing conflicts there. Both the Chadian and the Sudanese governments are accused of having supported each other's rebels, prompting attacks against Chadian villages also.
According to UN figures there are some 400,000 Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians in Chad and 200,000 displaced people in the Central African Republic.
The resolution said the ''multidimensional presence'' would serve for one year in Chad and the northeastern Central African Republic and will be known as MINURCAT, the French acronym for UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad.
It was authorized under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter which allows the use of force.
In Chad, the new operation is expected to ''select, train, advise'' police to protect refugee camps near the Darfur border and in both countries make sure humanitarian aid reaches the needy.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon originally wanted a UN peacekeeping force but Chadian President Idriss Deby opposed this but later agreed to the European troops.
France, with 3,000 air force personnel already in Chad, its former colony, is expected to provide many of the troops for the EU force, which would complement a planned mission of up to 26,000 UN and African Union troops and police in Darfur itself.
REUTERS AE PM2352