Annan recommends increasing number of UN troops, police in DR of Congo

Annan recommends increasing number of UN troops, police in DR of Congo

Noting difficulties in the eastward deployment of the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended that the Security Council consider increasing the overall number of UN troops and police in the country.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Mission, which is known by its French acronym, MONUC, the Secretary-General says that recent assessments show that given its current troop strength, it is “obvious” MONUC will not be able to undertake the military tasks associated with demilitarizing the capital, Kisangani, and its further deployment to the eastern part of the country.

“It would be unrealistic to request the Mission to do so, particularly in the security environment existing today” in the DRC, Mr. Annan writes, before recommending that MONUC’s authorized military strength be increased by 850 troops as well as an additional 85 civilian police advisers.

The report was presented to the Council today in a closed-door briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and chief of MONUC, Amos Namanga Ngongi.

As for support from the country’s various political actors, the Secretary-General points out that regrettably, the cooperation MONUC has received so far has not always been satisfactory. He calls on them to renew their commitment to carry out the Lusaka peace accords and to display the necessary “seriousness of purpose and resolve.”

“They should avail themselves of the unique opportunity created by the presence of MONUC to reach a viable solution to the conflict,” he stresses.

On the security front, the Secretary-General describes the situation as very volatile, as demonstrated by the intensification of fighting between rebel groups in the north-east of the country.

Meanwhile, the overall humanitarian situation continues to be characterized by “grievous human rights violations, chronic food insecurity, population displacement, and outbreaks of infectious disease,” Mr. Annan observes in his report. “Poor security conditions significantly limit the access of humanitarian agencies, and the humanitarian situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains particularly precarious.”