More troops needed to bolster UN force in DRCongo

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So far only Bangladesh had come forward with one infantry battalion, one engineer company and one formed police unit.

UNITED NATIONS, February 3, 2009 (AFP) - The international community has so far failed to contribute enough troops to beef up the UN peacekeeping force in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in a letter seen here Tuesday.

"I regret to inform you that, despite the organization’s considerable efforts to generate the additional resources required, ... troop-contributing countries have not been as receptive as we had hoped," the secretary general said in a letter addressed to the Security Council.

He noted that of the 49 troop-contributing countries and 12 potential troop contributors approached, until now only Bangladesh had come forward with one infantry battalion, one engineer company and one formed police unit.

Belgium has also offered a C-130 aircraft, while five other UN member states have pledged to send required intelligence experts for the UN mission in DRC, known by its French acronym MONUC.

Ban also deplored the fact that member states have made no commitments nor expressed interest regarding remaining air assets (one C-130 and 18 utility helicopters) needed or the deployment of the 200 military trainers.

The UN request was made following the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1843 last November, under which an extra 2,785 troops and 300 police officers were mandated to bolster the 17,000-strong MONUC.

Eastern DRC has been the scene of fierce fighting in recent months between the DRC army and various rebel militia groups that has displaced some 250,000 civilians since August, on top of 800,000 uprooted in earlier outbreaks of violence.

Last month, DRC and neighboring Rwanda launched a joint military operation against Hutu rebels of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) which has been based in eastern Congo for more than a decade.

Elements of the FDLR, at the centre of years of instability in the region, are believed to have taken part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

AFP/Expatica

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