Nairobi — India and Pakistan are due to rapidly deploy some 1,700 soldiers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), following Friday's resolution by the UN Security Council to increase the strength of its peacekeeping mission there, UN News reported on Tuesday.
UN News said since the Council's unanimous adoption of the resolution, arrangements had been made for an emergency deployment of two battalions of some 850 soldiers each, from these two countries. India will also provide four attack helicopters.
Quoting MONUC spokeswoman Patricia Tomé, UN News said the additional troops would bolster MONUC's operations to enable it to conduct a range of new tasks, such as protecting civilians and enforcing an arms embargo in the embattled eastern Congo.
She was quoted as echoing the comments of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who welcomed the Council's action on Friday but warned that the new authorised troop level of 16,700 fell "well below" his recommended 23,900 peacekeepers and 507 civilian police.
Besides the Indians and Pakistanis, the remaining troop increases are still under discussion, UN News reported. It added that India and Pakistan were also expected to provide one brigade - around 2,500 troops - each.
UN News reported that MONUC's new authorised troop level, however, was insufficient to establish the "civilian-military joint mission analysis cell" recommended in Annan's report to the Council. In calling for the new structure, Annan said MONUC's effectiveness had "suffered from the lack of established mechanisms for information management capable of providing detailed analysis to my Special Representative and the senior mission management".
On Friday, the Council also expanded MONUC's mandate to include protecting civilians "under imminent threat of violence", inspection of aircraft cargo and other traffic in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu and in the northeastern district of Ituri, in fulfilment of the arms embargo. MONUC would also observe and report on troop movements and the presence of foreign forces in military hotspots.
The Council's resolution asked Annan to report to it by the end of February 2005 on MONUC's structure and strength "with a view to their adjustment according to the progress made on the ground and the tasks remaining to be accomplished".
Tomé was quoted as saying the review would provide an opportunity to examine the success of the operation, which is being conducted across a huge span of territory.