New mandate for DR Congo UN force
The UN has extended the mandate of its peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo by a year, boosting its authority to protect civilians, BBC reported.
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.
It is aimed at protecting UN troops not only from rebel forces but also from renegade groups of government soldiers, the BBC's Matt Wells reports from New York.
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, our correspondent says.
The European Union has failed to respond to requests that its members provide the bulk of the new forces, he says.
The recent fighting, near DR Congo's border with Rwanda, has pitted rebels led by Laurent Nkunda against government troops and pro-government militia.
A UN report issued last week accused both Rwanda and DR Congo of directly helping rebel groups.
The new mandate approved by the UN Security Council directs Monuc to focus on the protection of civilians.
It calls on the mission "to concentrate progressively during the coming year its action in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo," reports said.
It also says the force should try to prevent violence, including by using "cordon and search" tactics and seeking to prevent attacks on civilians while disrupting the military capability of illegal armed groups.
John Sawyers, the British ambassador to the UN, welcomed the new mandate, which he said was "more focussed".
"It also includes an important clarification of the relationship between Monuc and the government security forces, which should help address some of the issues Monuc faced in the recent fighting," he said.