The UN has extended the mandate of its peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo by a year.

The resolution gives the force the authority to protect civilians not only from rebel groups but also from renegade Congolese government soldiers.

The 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 violence.

The new UN mandate provides for the deployment of about 22,000 soldiers and police, and observers. After fighting broke out in eastern DR Congo at the end of August, some government troops joined in the looting.

The UN force in DR Congo, Monuc, is due to receive an additional 3,000 peacekeepers in the coming months.

But few countries have so far offered to help. The European Union has failed to respond to requests that its members provide the bulk of the new forces.


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