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Relief needs in DR of Congo outweigh available funds: top UN aid official

Relief needs in DR of Congo outweigh available funds: top UN aid official

Wrapping up a six-day visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a top United Nations humanitarian official today warned that the scope of the country's relief needs was far greater than the resources available to aid organizations in the country.

Briefing the press in Kinshasa, Kenzo Oshima, the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said international and local non-governmental organizations were working in "extremely difficult conditions," without access to the most vulnerable segment of the Congolese population because of geographical obstacles, poor infrastructure and lack of adequate security.

"I have shared my concerns with Government officials, as well as representatives of the RCD [Congolese Rally for Democracy] and the FLC [Congolese Liberation Front] who all pledged to facilitate access to vulnerable people," he told the press.

Mr. Oshima also said he had obtained an agreement to put into place a mechanism of dialogue between the Government and humanitarian actors in the DRC.

The Under Secretary-General welcomed the Government's declaration on 24 March authorizing freedom of movement of goods and people in the territory as a "very positive step" - one made in the spirit of the Lusaka Accord.

Meanwhile the head of the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC), Kamel Morjane, and Force Commander General Mountaga Diallo were in Goma yesterday to review with officials of the rebel RCD the difficulties delaying their verification exercise in Kalemie.

The RCD leadership promised to lift all "technical and administrative" obstacles in order to let UN observers do their work in the best possible conditions, MONUC said. The two sides confirmed the arrival of 100 Moroccan troops as the first group of a contingent of 380 men to be deployed to Kisangani between 15 and 16 April.

Mr. Morjane and General Diallo also plan to visit Jean-Pierre Bemba, leader of the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), to finalize the deployment of extra military observers in areas where the rebel group is expected to pull out.

According to the UN Mission, the verification of the disengagement of government troops will start tomorrow in Kananga, one of the four Sector Headquarters.