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Rebel Pullback and Increased Aid Access to DRC

DR Congo: Ban Welcomes Rebel Pullback and Increased Aid Access in East

MONUC forces on patrol in Rutshuru:

19 November 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the announcement of a military pullback by a rebel militia and the opening of humanitarian corridors to allow unfettered access to vulnerable people in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where recent conflict has uprooted a quarter of a million people.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban welcomed yesterday’s announcement made by the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP), led by renegade general Laurent Nkunda, which has been fighting with Congolese forces, known as FARDC, in North Kivu province.

The UN peacekeeping mission in the country, known by its French acronym MONUC, reported today that after declaring a unilateral retreat, the CNDP has begun redeploying in the Kanyabayonga-Nyanzale and the Kabasha-Rutshuru areas.

The Secretary-General “calls on the parties to observe the cessation of hostilities and to guarantee safe passage of humanitarian assistance as they continue with the efforts to find a political solution to the crisis.”

He expressed his appreciation of the work of his Special Envoy, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who has held talks in the past week with Mr. Nkunda and regional leaders, including Presidents Joseph Kabila of the DRC and José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola.

Yesterday, Mr. Obasanjo – accompanied by co-facilitator and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Conference, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula – met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala.

The top UN envoy to the vast African nation today said that MONUC has stepped up its military presence in North Kivu, with troops being reconfigured to reinforce the roughly 6,000 forces already on the ground.

Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MONUC, said the mission has bolstered its security operations in the provincial capital Goma and is ensuring the safety of local officials. He also expressed MONUC’s support for Mr. Obasanjo’s “difficult mission.”

Yesterday, the Special Representative voiced hope that the Security Council will shortly approve a request for 3,000 additional troops.

The Council’s authorization for extra forces would “enable us to reinforce our presence, particularly in North Kivu, which is really needed given the pressures on us from many directions,” he told reporters in New York via video link from the DRC.

ENDS

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