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Environment/Natural Resources

[Published: Tuesday February 10 2009]

U.N. seeks new peacekeepers for Congo


New York, 04 Feb-(ANA)-The United Nations is seeking 3,000 new peacekeepers for eastern Congo, scene of frequent fighting between armed groups, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said.



In a letter, Ban asked the Security Council, which in November approved a temporary increase in the U.N. force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 17,000 to 20,000, to put pressure on countries to contribute the troops.


"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," Ban told the council.


The council had voted to expand what was already the world's largest U.N. force after renewed fighting in eastern Congo that displaced 250,000 people in what the United Nations called a humanitarian catastrophe.


Ban said the U.N. had approached 65 countries to contribute troops or police, but had received firm offers only from Bangladesh -- of one infantry battalion, one engineering company and one police unit -- and from Belgium of a C-130 transport aircraft.


Four countries have expressed interest in providing a second infantry battalion, two have said they might supply two special forces companies and one has indicated it might provide a second police unit, but there have been no formal offers.


Ban said he was particularly concerned about the special forces companies and the lack of commitments on requests for a second C-130, 18 helicopters and 200 military instructors, all required to give the force a rapid reaction capacity.


"Any efforts by the Security Council to encourage troop-contributing countries to provide the mission with the necessary resources would be greatly appreciated," he said.


U.N. diplomats said South Africa and Belgium were among the countries that had made preliminary offers to send troops.(ANA)

FA/ANA/04 February 2009---






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