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Annan, Security Council deplore murders of relief staff in DR of Congo

Annan, Security Council deplore murders of relief staff in DR of Congo

Red Cross workers in DRC
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the United Nations Security Council today expressed distress at the killings of six relief workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and urged parties to the conflict to ensure safe access by humanitarian agencies.

In a statement issued through his spokesperson, the Secretary-General said the tragic murders of staff of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) underscored the dangers facing relief organizations whose principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality were once again being "so wilfully flouted."

"The Secretary-General reiterates his urgent appeal to all parties to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to ensure full and secure access to vulnerable populations, [and] calls upon the responsible authorities to investigate this vicious attack and bring those responsible to justice," the statement said.

The workers were killed yesterday on the road between Djugu and Fataki in the northeast of the country, some 40 miles north of Bunia. They had been on their way to deliver medicines to a health centre in the area, the statement said.

According to the ICRC, the team comprised two women and four men: Rita Fox, 36, a Swiss nurse from Bern; Véronique Saro, 33, a Congolese national; Julio Delgado, 54, a Colombian relief delegate; Unen Ufoirworth, 29, a Congolese employee of the ICRC tracing agency; and drivers Aduwe Boboli, 39, and Jean Molokabonge, 56, both Congolese nationals.

During its afternoon session today in New York, the Security Council observed a moment of silence in honour of the slain workers. Speaking to the press following the meeting, Council President Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom said the Council had asked him to "make clear in public that they vigorously condemned the murders."

"These were humanitarian workers in the course of their duties - courageous people whose lives were brutally taken," Ambassador Greenstock said. "We don't know why at the moment. That made us not just worry about the safety of humanitarian and other United Nations and international workers, but also for the peace process in the Congo."