UN extends mandate for peacekeepers in Congo
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The UN Security Council has unanimously renewed the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo for a year. The mission, known as MONUC, is due to receive an additional 3,000 peacekeepers.
REUTERS - The Security Council on Monday renewed the mandate of hard-pressed U.N. peacekeepers in the
The United Nations is trying to address fresh violence in eastern
U.N. officials have countered that the 17,000-strong force is stretched thin in
Monday's resolution extends MONUC's mandate until the end of 2009. Diplomats said the text beefed up last year's resolution by saying the force should work "in close cooperation with"
U.N. officials and rights groups have said
"The new resolution makes it possible for MONUC to act independently against armed groups. This is important because the (Congolese army) in its present status cannot be the sole foundation for the strategy against armed groups," Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht told the council.
"It can now also take action if uncontrolled elements of the (Congolese army) are at the source of violent acts against the population."
Another clause in the resolution instructs MONUC to increasingly focus its action on the eastern part of
More than a quarter of a million civilians have been been driven from their homes since Nkunda's offensive began, with widespread reports of murder, rape and looting. More than 5 million people have died since the beginning of a 1998-2003 war in the region.
In a separate resolution on Monday, the Security Council renewed and expanded the scope of sanctions, such as travel bans and asset freezes, against people deemed to support rebels in eastern
Also included are those who obstruct access to, or distribution of, aid in the area, or who support rebels through illicit trade in natural resources. No new names were added immediately to the existing sanctions list, diplomats said.
The Security Council debate was marked by verbal clashes between
Ambassador Joseph Nsengimana said Nkunda's rise reflected
"The failure of the (Congolese army) to protect its citizens certainly justifies Nkunda's claim of being a protector of his Congolese Tutsi community," Nsengimana said.
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