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UN Radio: Killings Around UN Compound in Congo

Killings Around UN Compound in Congo

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Fighting Rages Around UN Compound In Bunia

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fighting is raging outside a UN compound in the town of Bunia. The UN mission in the DRC (MONUC) reports that the situation continues to be extremely difficult and volatile, with intense fighting going on between ethnic Hema and Lendu militias in the town, as well as around the airport. A spokesman says a shell landed in the UN compound killing one person and wounding 13 others. The UN mission headquarters in Bunia is wedged in an area between the two warring groups. Spokesman Mamadou Bah says the fighting is intense.

"It started with heavy shooting at 11:30 am eastern Congo time and stopped around 1.00pm and started again with an exchange of fire -heavy gunfire on both sides."

The spokesman says MONUC is sheltering approximately 10,000 civilians and is working with humanitarian agencies to provide food, water, sanitation and also medical assistance to the injured.

UN Warns Of Humanitarian Catastrophe In Bunia

The United Nations is warning of a serious humanitarian situation developing in Bunia. Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Carolyn McAskie says the UN office coordinating humanitarian affairs has eight staff members on the ground, providing the most basic of human needs - plastic sheeting for shelter and some high-protein biscuits to people taking refuge at the airport.

"The humanitarian situation we are describing right now as dangerous, even desperate, and we are focusing on very basic life-saving interventions."

Ms. McAskie fears there could be an outbreak of infectious diseases caused by unsanitary conditions as a result of overcrowding in the UN compound.

UN Human Rights Commissioner Concerned at Killings in Bunia

High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Mello has expressed grave concern at the indiscriminate killings in the town of Bunia. Spokesman for the Human Rights office Jose Luis Diaz says the High Commissioner has called on all parties to immediately cease using violence.

"In a statement, the High Commissioner Mr. Vieira de Mello also said that a stronger human rights presence may be necessary to monitor the situation more closely especially in respect to the conditions of the most vulnerable groups including displaced women, children and the elderly."

The High Commissioner has urged all States to heed the Secretary-General's request for troops and material to help bring peace to the region.

Security Council Postpones West Africa trip

The UN Security Council has postponed its mission to West Africa. The mission was scheduled to begin on Thursday. Security Council President Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan says the Council took the decision because some representatives felt that this may not be the best time to be away from headquarters when negotiations are being held on a resolution dealing with post-war Iraq issues.

"I think that there is a sense of commitment to West Africa, there is a sense of urgency and we will reschedule the mission as soon as possible."

lThe Security Council was holding consultations Wednesday on the resolution which would lift sanctions against Iraq.

UN Human Rights official says Israel has Stepped up Destruction of Palestinian Property

A senior human rights official has charged that Israeli destruction of Palestinian houses has increased astronomically this year. UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing Miloon Kothari said more homes have been destroyed so far this year than the entire two-year period of the intifada between September 2000 and September 2002.

"I have some very recent information with me of the situation and what's very clear in that is the destruction of land, confiscation of land and the raising of land has gone up astronomically."

Special Rapporteur Kothari said he's convinced that Israel has used the Iraqi crisis and its aftermath to consolidate the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Meets with US Presidential Envoy

In Baghdad, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq held talks Wednesday with the American presidential envoy to Iraq Paul Bremer on ways in which the UN and its specialised agencies can be of assistance in the programme of recovery in the country. A United Nations spokesman said the two officials focused on how the UN food agency (WFP) could use money from the oil-for food account to purchase the next crop of wheat and barley from Iraqi farmers. UN humanitarian coordinator Ramiro Lopes-De Silva stressed that the UN's immediate concern is security in the sense of law and order for the society.

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