The Security Council today authorized the temporary redeployment of peacekeepers from the Organization's operation in Burundi (ONUB) to its mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) to strengthen security and oversight for the upcoming Congolese elections.
By a unanimous resolution, the Council approved the transfer of up to one infantry battalion, a military hospital and 50 military observers to MONUC, as determined last week by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
In a letter to the Council, Mr. Annan had requested the redeployment for an initial period lasting through the end of 2006. In its action today, the Council authorized the transfer until 1 July, but also expressed the intention to extend it further depending on the future renewal of the mandates of the Burundi and Congo operations.
In the letter, Mr. Annan said the military units would operate in troubled Katanga province of the vast central African country. UN agencies have reported that fighting in the area between the army and Mai Mai rebels has driven over 150,000 people from their homes in the last six months.
The observers would be deployed throughout the country to increase monitoring of the 18 June poll, which the UN is helping to organize in the largest and most expensive electoral operation the world body has ever undertaken.
Pakistan and Jordan, the troop contributing countries, have indicated their agreement in principle to the transfer, Mr. Annan's letter stated.
In a December resolution extending ONUB's mandate, the Council had authorized redeployment of military and civilian police personnel between the two missions as a step toward draw-down of the Burundi force after last year's successful elections and other signs that it is successfully emerging from its 12-year civil war.