27 August 2003


Security Council Authorizes Emergency Force in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to Assist UN Mission During Reinforecement, Transition

Resolution 1501 (2003) Adopted Unanimously


NEW YORK, 26 August (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this morning authorized the emergency force deployed in May to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to provide assistance as the United Nations mission is reinforced and deployed in and around the town of Bunia on 1 September.  That assistance is intended to ensure a smooth transition as the United Nations mission assumes the responsibilities of the force, which should complete its withdrawal by 15 September.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1501 (2003), the Council acted on the recommendations of the Secretary-General, who, in his 14 August letter (document S/2003/821), said such a contingency was needed in case the situation in Bunia became volatile during the transition period.  Also in the letter, he noted that preparations for the deployment by the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) of a brigade-size force in Bunia were well under way, and the deployment of an infantry battalion from Bangladesh was expected to be completed by 15 August.  That battalion will join the Uruguayan battalion already there, and they are to take over from the Interim Emergency Multinational Force on 1 September.

The Multinational Force, with France as its lead nation, was deployed to Bunia to stabilize the tense situation in the area until the United Nations Mission called for reinforcement.  Under the resolution authorizing the Force, the Council also authorized the Secretary-General to deploy, within the overall authorized MONUC ceiling, a reinforced United Nations presence to Bunia, and requested him to do so by mid-August.

Also by that text, 1484, which was unanimously adopted on 30 May, the Council stipulated that the Force was to:  contribute to the stabilization of the security and humanitarian situation in Bunia; ensure the protection of the airport, as well as the internally displaced persons in the camps in Bunia; and, if the situation requires it, participate in the protection of the population, United Nations personnel and the humanitarian presence in town.

On 28 July, the Council adopted resolution 1493, extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission there until 30 July 2004, raising its authorized military strength to 10,800, and instituting a 12-month arms embargo over areas in the eastern part of the country.  For the first time since the United Nations Mission was established in November 1999, the Council put it in the context of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter and authorized "all necessary means" to fulfil its mandate in the eastern part of the country -- the Ituri district and in North and South Kivu -- where armed conflict continues.

The meeting was called to order at 10:15 a.m. and adjourned at 10:18 a.m.

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