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Last Updated: Monday, 22 November, 2004, 14:00 GMT
Boost for DR Congo peace force
By Mark Doyle
BBC, Kinshasa

UN peacekeeper and a Congolese soldier
The UN is trying to help organise elections next year
Some 5,000 extra troops have started to arrive in the Democratic Republic of Congo to reinforce a severely stretched United Nations peacekeeping force.

The new troops, which should complete their deployment in the coming weeks, will head to eastern DR Congo.

This is the most dangerous part of the country, where military control is still split despite a ceasefire.

It will be a miracle if elections are held as planned in six months without new clashes between armed factions.

Once all of the new troops, from India and Pakistan, are in place there will be some 15,000 blue helmets in DR Congo - the most ambitious and expensive peacekeeping operation in the world.

Ambassadors shocked

It is impossible to exaggerate the task the UN has taken on here.

QUICK GUIDE

More than three million people have died in DR Congo in the past five years from war or war-related destitution.

There is no real national army and hardly any police force.

UN officials are fond of saying that everything is broken in DR Congo except the human spirit and some of them admit that the UN may have taken on too much here with too few resources.

Ambassadors from the UN Security Council are currently visiting DR Congo to assess the peacekeeping mission and its prospects for success.

Some of them have clearly been shocked by the scale of the task at hand.




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