updated 11/17/2008 7:45:55 PM ET 2008-11-18T00:45:55

A proposed new U.N. resolution would increase the 17,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in conflict-wracked Congo by about 3,100 troops and police, according to the draft obtained Monday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the top U.N. envoy in Congo, Alan Doss, have been urging the U.N. Security Council to beef up its presence in eastern Congo, where clashes between fighters loyal to rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and the Congolese army and its allied militias have created a humanitarian crisis.

Since fighting erupted in August, at least 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes and camps where they had previously taken refuge.

The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, condemns the resurgence of violence in eastern Congo and demands all parties "immediately respect a cease-fire."

Members of the 15-nation council and the Congo's U.N. Ambassador Ileka Atoki said last week there was broad agreement to increase the force. Council diplomats said they expect a quick vote, probably later this week.

Deployment could take months
The French-drafted resolution would temporarily add 2,785 military personnel and 300 police to the force, which is already the largest U.N. peacekeeping mission.

U.N. officials and diplomats have cautioned that even with 3,000 additional troops and police, the force will have great difficulty fulfilling its mandate of protecting civilians because Congo is the size of Western Europe and North Kivu, where the current fighting is centered, is 1 1/2 times the size of France.

The draft resolution expresses "extreme concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation and in particular the targeted attacks against civilian population, sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers and summary executions."

Even if the resolution wins quick approval, however, deployment will take months.

That's because the U.N. Peacekeeping Department will first have to ask U.N. member states to provide the soldiers and police, then decide which units to accept, and ensure they are properly equipped to deploy to Congo.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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