UN reduces soldiers, increases police in DRC mission

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The UN Security Council on Thursday approved a one-year extension of its peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, decreasing the number of soldiers and increasing the size of its police contingent.

The French-drafted resolution, which also referred to the need for an exit strategy from the country, was unanimously adopted by the 15-member council.

The Monusco mission's troop reduction is modest in relation to the 15 900 currently deployed, cutting the maximum authorized ceiling from 16 875 to 14 660.

It is above all a "political signal" in light of the changes that have occurred in the country with the installation of a new government and the improvement of security in many areas, a diplomat said.

The police component of Monusco will temporarily gain 360 additional personnel.

In the text, the Security Council "invites the (UN) Secretariat to consider further reduction of Monusco's level of military deployment and area of operations based on the positive evolution of the situation on the ground, in particular in the regions where the threat posed by armed groups is no longer significant."

It also "takes note of the independent strategic review" conducted recently and says that "an absolute minimum transition period of three years is required."

And it "underscores the need to progressively transfer Monusco's tasks to the Government of the DRC."

The resolution calls on the government to appoint a coordinator to lead disarmament efforts and reintegration programs for former combatants, and for the country to initiate legal proceedings against those responsible for human rights violations and abuses.

Monusco's budget is around one billion dollars a year. The United Nations has been present militarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo for twenty years.

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