Following on a Security Council decision to expand the tasks of the United Nations operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the senior UN peacekeeping official is in the country today reviewing the challenges ahead.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno's visit to the country comes after the Security Council approved earlier this month an additional 5,900 troops for the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) - a figure that fell far short of the increase recommended by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
When the Council took that decision, the Secretary-General said that recommendations for expanding MONUC's tasks had been made "on different assumptions" than the authorized troop strength, and said the Mission's concept of operations would have to be adapted accordingly.
In a report to the Council on MONUC, the Secretary-General praised developing countries for their contributions to the mission, but said the Security Council should not rely solely on those nations. "Other troop-contributing countries must also play an active role in assisting the Congolese peace process and I call on them to seriously consider the invaluable assistance they can provide to peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," he said.
In Ireland today, Mr. Annan appealed to European countries to contribute more to peacekeeping, noting that only one in 20 UN troops in Africa come from Europe. "The European Union is in a position to provide specialized skills that our largest troop contributors may not be able to give us, and to deploy more rapidly than we can," he told the National Forum on Europe.
There are currently some 10,800 troops, military observers and civilian police serving with MONUC, but of those only around 50 come from Europe.
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations is expected to brief the Council by 1 November on the changes deemed necessary in MONUC's structure and deployment.