In a bid to bolster the peace process in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Security Council today agreed to enlarge the United Nations mission in the country to 8,700 military personnel – up from the current 4,250 – and expand its presence eastward.
By unanimously adopting resolution 1445, the Security Council agreed to a new concept of operations for the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) as outlined by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a special report, which called for shifting the emphasis of the Mission's activity eastward and significantly strengthening its military component by creating a "forward force" of two robust task forces based in Kindu and Kisangani.
The new forces will provide "point security" at disarmament and demobilization sites for the conduct of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and will assist in the destruction of impounded weapons and munitions. Additional "riverine" units will be used to support the reopening of the Congo River for commercial traffic.
The Mission will also continue to monitor the withdrawal of foreign troops from the territory of the DRC, which the Council welcomed today in its resolution, noting that 23,400 Rwandan soldiers as well as those from Uganda, Zimbabwe and Angola have been recalled home.
The 15-nation body also stressed the importance of the withdrawals being completed in a transparent, orderly and verified manner, and underlined the need for the parties to help the verification of the withdrawals by providing MONUC with detailed information on the movements.
In his report, the Secretary-General had suggested that the recent agreements concerning the withdrawal of Rwandan, Ugandan and related forces from the territory of the DRC represented "a concrete opportunity to move forward with the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration of armed groups."
Today's resolution also welcomed the commitment of the DRC Government and other Congolese parties to achieve an inclusive agreement on the political transition, stressing the importance of such an accord to the wider peace process and calling on all sides to cooperate actively with the aim of quickly reaching agreement on such a pact.
Meanwhile, the Council expressed deep concern over both the humanitarian situation and the intensification of ethnically targeted violence in the Ituri region in the northeastern part of the DRC. The resolution called on all parties to cooperate in the establishment of the Ituri Pacification Commission and requested the Secretary-General to increase the presence of MONUC stationed in the area as security conditions permit.