Annan to Security Council consider more troops for UN mission in DR

The Secretary-General’s letter, released today, refers to his 27 May special report on the situation in the conflict-plagued DRC, in which he had recommended that the Council extend the mandate of the UN Organization Mission (MONUC) for a full year – until June 2004 – and that its military strength be boosted to nearly 11,000 troops. He also recommended that the possibility of imposing an arms embargo be considered in war-ravaged Ituri district as well as the Kivus.Yesterday, taking note of the Secretary-General’s recommendations and expressing “deep concern” over the continuation of hostilities in the eastern part of the DRC, the Council unanimously extended MONUC for another month, until 30 July. The 15-nation body followed that decision with a Presidential statement forcefully condemning the violence and calling on the parties in the area to fully commit to the political process and to “completely and decisively” renounce the military path.But the Secretary-General’s special report stresses that the magnitude of the challenges in the DRC should not to be underestimated, and he writes: “The country is still divided…the population is traumatized by years of conflict, the country is poverty stricken and State services and infrastructure are non-existent.” Other challenges stand in the way of transition, chiefly the brutal conflicts in the Kivus and in Ituri, where a “humanitarian catastrophe threatens to derail the overall peace process.” MONUC, he continues, is well, if not uniquely placed to play a central role in assisting the parties through the transition period.In his letter to the Council, the Secretary-General notes that while the deployment in Bunia of a multinational force has had a “stabilizing effect,” it is also clear that the temporary calm is a tenuous one. Heavy fighting in other parts of Ituri and in the Kivus was continuing and there were now fears that the escalating hostilities may spark an influx of internally displaced people into Bunia seeking safe haven.”The situation, in other words, may deteriorate seriously, especially if there is no continuum of appropriate security in Ituri,” Mr. Annan writes, stressing that it will therefore be imperative to do anything possible to avoid the creation of a security vacuum in Bunia after the expected withdrawal of the emergency force on 1 September.The letter also reminds the members of the Council that the deployment of the emergency force is only a “stopgap measure” and urges them to understand that extending the mandate of the force “is neither an option nor a solution.”In this light, the Secretary-General says, “it would be crucial for the international community to demonstrate solidarity with the plight of the Congolese people” by considering favourably the proposed increase in the capacity of the UN Mission to perform the tasks in Ituri.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *