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Concern Over Situation In DR Congo's Troubled East

UN raises concerns over humanitarian situation in DR Congo's troubled east

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has expressed concern over the ongoing insecurity in the conflict-ridden North Kivu province in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where clashes have escalated in recent months between Government and renegade forces.

OCHA reported that civilians continue to be harassed by men in uniform and homes are looted. In addition, the continued closure of the Kilambo airstrip - which restricts humanitarian access - further exacerbates the situation.

Fighting has increased in recent months between Government troops and rebels allied with the dissident army general, Laurent Nkunda, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes in North Kivu.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed supplies to over 4,500 internally displaced families, while the UN Children's Fund participated in a mass vaccination campaign for children between the ages of six months and 15 years earlier this month. In the Rutshuru territory, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has distributed condoms and blankets.

In a related development, a new military operations centre for the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) - built by United Nations peacekeepers - has been inaugurated in Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

In the span of one month, peacekeepers from the UN mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, turned a simple room into a functional, air-conditioned operations centre, which is equipped with updated maps on sliding boards, a computer and video projection system, and a conference area.

At the inauguration ceremony on 29 December, General Mayala of the DRC's armed forces (FARDC) said that the new centre is "the most modern in the DRC."

Also in attendance at the launch, MONUC's North Kivu commander, General Narayan, told officers from FARDC - which financed the centre's rebuilding - that MONUC aims to help the national army restore peace and establish State authority in that part of the vast Central African nation.

MONUC currently has 18,407 total uniformed personnel - including 16,661 troops, 735 military observers, 1,011 police, 931 international civilian personnel, 2,062 local civilian staff and 585 UN Volunteers.


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