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Abducted UN military observers in DR of Congo

Annan urges release of abducted UN military observers in DR of Congo

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged all warring parties in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to cooperate unconditionally in the release of two United Nations military observers who were abducted in the town of Beni.

A statement issued by his spokesman in New York said the Secretary-General was "deeply disturbed" by the news of the abduction yesterday of two observers serving with the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), and urged the parties in the volatile region and beyond to cooperate in their release.

The Secretary-General "also stresses the importance of complying with, and welcomes the Acte d'Engagement for the Cessation of Hostilities in the eastern and north-eastern DRC signed in Bujumbura yesterday, under the mediation of his Special Representative, Mr. Amos Namanga Ngongi," the statement said.

The Act of Engagement was signed by the Government, the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD-Goma) and the RCD-Kisangani/Mouvement de Liberation (RCD-K/ML).

While this commitment by the warring parties is welcome, it is clear that fighting has continued, MONUC said, adding that the RCD-Goma, following its capture of Lubero, continues its move northward toward Beni and Butembo.

The continuing fighting is worsening an already grave humanitarian situation. Humanitarian agencies report that as many as 200,000 people have fled from Lubero and other towns in North Kivu ahead of the latest RCD-Goma offensive. UN agencies and non-governmental organizations have been evacuating staff from Beni and Butembo.

MONUC also noted that the area around Beni is already home to almost 100,000 internally displaced people from war-ravaged Ituri district, and humanitarian organizations are barely able to meet their needs. If the current RCD-Goma offensive continues, the likely result will be massive population movements that will exceed capacities of the humanitarian organizations active in the area.


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