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Blue Helmets in Congo on Standby after Blast in Arms Depot

UN 'Blue Helmets' in DR Congo on Standby after Blast in Arms Depot

New York, Jan 25 2014 - The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is standing by to support local authorities following an explosion at an ammunition depot.

The blast occurred on Friday when a lightning strike apparently sparked a fire in a military barrack in Mbuji Mayi, one of the DRC's largest cities.

"Over 20 people died, more than 50 were injured and many houses destroyed by the blast, causing desolation in the city," according to today's statement from the UN peacekeeping mission known by its French acronym, MONUSCO.

MONUSCO head and Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Martin Kobler, expressed his deep sadness by the loss of lives and extended his condolences to the families who lost loved ones.

"I wish a speedy recovery to all the injured," he said, adding "I have instructed our office in Mbuji Mayi to stand by and support local authorities in dealing with the situation".

One of the main objectives of MONUSCO peacekeepers, also known as "blue helmets", as mandated by the Security Council, is to assist the Government in protecting civilians in the country.

In a Newsmaker interview with the UN News Centre earlier this month, Mr. Kobler stressed the importance of a political solution to addressing the underlying causes of violence in the DRC and the overall Great Lakes region.

"The region of the Great Lakes has to integrate more economically above all for the benefit of all populations in the different countries," he said. "Everybody has to be convinced that stability, economic integration, regional political integration, confidence-building between the States -- this is the right way to go in the long-term."

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

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