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Senior UN Officials Assess Peace Efforts In E. DRC

Senior United Nations officials assess peace efforts in eastern DR Congo province

18 July 2008 - Senior officials with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have concluded a visit to North Kivu to assess ongoing efforts to restore peace and stability in the province.

Both North and South Kivu, which have been beset by fighting and instability since the official end of the civil war in 2003, have been working to implement the accords reached in January at the Kivus conference on peace, security and development, held in Goma.

The delegation from the UN mission, known as MONUC, was led by Ross Mountain, UN Humanitarian Coordinator and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and Force Commander General Babacar Gaye.

During its 16-17 July visit, the team held a series of meetings with their colleagues in the provincial capital, Goma, as well as representatives from the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC), international humanitarian aid organizations and the Amani Programme - the mixed technical commission on peace and security in the Kivus.

In his meeting with the head of MONUC in Goma, Alpha Sow, Mr. Mountain reported on the problems encountered in the Amani process, as well as progress regarding the Stabilisation Plan, particularly the launch, by MONUC chief Alan Doss, of rehabilitation works on the Saké-Masisi road two weeks ago.

He also voiced major concerns relating to the financing of the Goma process, the Stabilisation Plan and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) process, among other things. Mr. Mountain was in turn briefed on the security situation and the military operations in progress.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator also met with humanitarian and UN agency representatives in North Kivu, who conveyed the difficulties they encountered on the ground due to insecurity which persists in certain zones in the province. A number of aid workers have been attacked in the province in recent months.

Mr. Mountain reassured them, saying that MONUC was going to reinforce blue helmets on the ground, although these capacities remain limited. He also called on the various organizations for better coordination to ensure their own security. Another important issue that was discussed related to the food crisis which affects the food distributions of the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

Humanitarian representatives also spoke about the situation of the some 850,000 internally displaced persons in North Kivu, cautioning that if military operations are mounted against the FDLR [Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda], this figure could rise by up to 200,000.

General Gaye had a work meeting with the FARDC leadership in the area, and also went to a DDR camp to inspect rehabilitation work for a new headquarters in Goma.

Before concluding the visit, Mr. Mountain flew by helicopter over the second priority road of Rutshuru–Ishasha, whose rehabilitation by MONUC is envisaged to start from August.

He also made a short stopover at MONUC's base in Rutshuru, where he was briefed on the operations in progress in the zone, which has a strong concentration of displaced people.

ENDS

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