UN undecided on sending extra peacekeepers to Congo

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The United Nations Security Council held a meeting on Tuesday on the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but failed to reach a decision on sending additional peacekeepers.
UNITED NATIONS, November 12 (RIA Novosti) - The United Nations Security Council held a meeting on Tuesday on the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but failed to reach a decision on sending additional peacekeepers.

The UN currently has 17,000 peacekeepers serving as part of the Congo mission known as Monuc, the world's largest peacekeeping force.

Alain Le Roy, head of UN peacekeeping, told reporters: "There is no decision yet but the mood is evolving toward reinforcing the number of troops of Monuc."

UN peacekeeping spokesman Col. Jean-Paul Dietrich said earlier on Tuesday that Congolese army troops had plundered villages in eastern Congo the previous night, looting houses and raping civilians as they retreated from rebel forces led by the renegade general Laurent Nkunda.

The Security Council had met to discuss a request from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for around 3,000 more peacekeepers and police.

Ban said he was "very concerned by reports of targeted killings of civilians, looting and rape," and that the "situation has grown increasingly desperate."

An estimated 250,000 people have been left homeless in 10 weeks of fighting between army and rebel troops.

The Monuc peacekeeping force is the largest of the UN's 20 peacekeeping operations worldwide, which employ a total of around 110,000 peacekeepers.

Britain's UN envoy, John Sawers, raised doubt on Tuesday over plans to send additional peacekeepers.

"The Security Council faces many demands for peacekeeping... There isn't a bottomless pit of peacekeepers, so we do need to make absolutely sure we're making the best possible use of the troops that already exist in the largest peacekeeping force in the world," he said.

The next UN debate on Congo is set for November 26.

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