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Number of UN peacekeepers in DR of Congo reaches 500

Number of UN peacekeepers in DR of Congo reaches 500

The number of United Nations peacekeepers on the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has reached nearly 500, a UN spokesman reported today.

Spokesman Fred Eckhard said that the remainder of the 260-strong Senegalese guard unit had arrived today in Kananga, one of four sectoral headquarters for the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC). The first half of the unit arrived earlier this week.

According to MONUC, the mission of the Senegalese soldiers and all Guard Units in the country will be "to guard UN facilities, equipment and supplies." The guards will enhance the ability of the Mission's military observers to carry out their primary task of monitoring and verifying the disengagement of the parties to the conflict.

Some 200 Uruguayan soldiers have already been deployed to Kalemie, one of MONUC's four sector headquarters. The plan also foresees the deployment next month of a second Senegalese Guard Unit of some 280 troops to Mbandaka and the arrival in May of a contingent of 200 Tunisian troops in Kinshasa to guard the Mission's main Headquarters.

In another development, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC, Kamel Morjane, was in Lusaka today to attend a meeting of the Political Committee, the signatories of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, the spokesman said.