23 Dec 2008

New mandate for DR Congo UN force

4:06 pm on 23 December 2008

The United Nations has extended the mandate of its peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo by a year and boosted its authority to protect civilians.

Peacekeepers have been struggling to contain recent fighting between government troops and rebels that has forced more than 250,000 to flee.

They have been criticised for failing to contain the fighting.

The new UN mandate provides for the deployment of about 22,000 soldiers and police, and observers.

The BBC reports it is aimed at protecting UN troops not only from rebel forces but also from renegade groups of government soldiers.

The UN force is also due to receive an additional 3000 peacekeepers in the coming months. But few countries have so far offered to help.