New mandate for UN efforts in Congo signed

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The UN has signed a new resolution that gives its forces the authority to deploy more troops and to protect civilians from rebel groups and from renegade Congolese government soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The newly signed mandate provides for the deployment of about 22,000 soldiers and police, and observers. But few countries have so far offered to help.

Sir John Sawers, the British ambassador to the UN, welcomed the new mandate, which he said was more focussed.

‘It also includes an important clarification of the relationship between Monuc and the government security forces, which should help address some of the issues Monuc faced in the recent fighting,’ he said.

The new mandate approved by the UN Security Council directs Monuc to focus on the protection of civilians. It urges the mission to concentrate its action, progressively, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the coming year.

It also says the force should do all in their power to discourage violence, even if it means using ‘cordon and search’ tactics in seeking to prevent attacks on civilians.

The UN force in DR Congo, Monuc, is due to receive an additional 3,000 peacekeepers in the coming months. The European Union has failed to respond to requests that its members provide the bulk of the new forces.

The initiatives comes after heavy criticism of the UN forces for failing to contain the violence as the peacekeepers have been struggling to contain recent fighting between government troops and rebels that has forced more than 250,000 to flee.

The mandate allows the UN to operate in DR Congo for another year.

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