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UN troops sent to violence-wracked Côte d’Ivoire

Security Council authorizes transfer of UN troops to violence-wracked Côte d’Ivoire

Expressing “serious concern” at the volatile situation in Côte d’Ivoire, where United Nations offices were looted and destroyed last month, the Security Council today authorized extra troops to boost the strength of the UN peacekeeping mission in the West African nation.

Reacting to Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s calls last week for more military personnel, the Council unanimously agreed to a temporary redeployment of troops from the UN mission in Liberia (UNMIL), but the numbers fell short of Mr. Annan’s request for an infantry battalion and a police unit.

Adoption a resolution, the Security Council authorized the immediate deployment of “a maximum of one infantry company from UNMIL to the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), until 31 March 2006, in order to provide extra security coverage for United Nations personnel and property, and to perform other tasks mandated to UNOCI.”

The Council went on to say that it would closely monitor the situation in Côte d’Ivoire up to the end of March so as to decide on future troop levels, while also taking into account what was happening in Liberia so as not to leave the mission there short of personnel.

UN offices were put under siege, looted or destroyed for four days last month in Abidjan, the commercial centre of Côte d’Ivoire, as well as in other towns.

On 24 January, faced with the imminent expiration of UNOCI's mandate, the Council extended it through mid-December and pledged to keep its troop strength under review. But the 15-member security body stopped short of meeting Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recommendation to significantly increase the size of the force.

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