News24

DRC UN mission starts fresh mandate

2010-07-02 12:37

Kinshasa - The UN peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo on  Thursday began a fresh mandate by officially changing its name, with its main goal now to consolidate peace, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said.

The mission will now be known as the United Nations' Organisation for Stabilisation in Democratic Republic of the Congo, abbreviated Monusco, following a resolution adopted on May 28 by the Security Council.

Its new mandate will run until June 30 next year.

The mission, earlier known by its French acronym Monuc, has been present in the DRC since the end of 1999.

"The aim must essentially focus on stabilisation and consolidating peace," said UN chief Ban Ki-moon in a statement.

"We must absolutely continue to give priority to protecting civilians, especially women..." he said.

"All the players, including the government forces, must seek to try and end the sexual violence," he said, vowing to do all he could to "fight against this very serious violation of fundamental rights".

The new resolution also authorises the withdrawal of a maximum of 2 000 blue helmets by June 30 next year. There are currently about 20 000 peacekeepers deployed in the country.

Monusco is the world's largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation with an annual budget of $1.35bn. Most of its troops are deployed in the country's volatile east.