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Security Council mission set to travel to Great Lakes region of Africa

Security Council mission set to travel to Great Lakes region of Africa

Amb. Jean-David Levitte
The ongoing crisis in the Middle East will not deter members of the Security Council from travelling to the Great Lakes region of Africa, where conflict and economic problems demand international attention, the leader of the mission said today.

"We thought it very important, with respect to our African partners, to show them that the Middle East crisis, even though it is 'front and centre' in our concerns, is not such that we are going to forget the other topics on the agenda of the Security Council," Ambassador Jean-David Levitte of France told reporters at a press briefing in New York.

The crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had created 3 million deaths over the past three years, including 200,000 due to hostilities and many more from the collapse of economic and health structures, he said, citing information gathered by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). "We thought it was important to maintain the commitment of the Security Council" at such a crucial time, he said.

The mission – set to leave tomorrow and run through 7 May – will include stops in South Africa, Zimbabwe, the DRC, Angola, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.

In South Africa and Zimbabwe, members are scheduled meet with Deputy President Zuma, and Burundian rebel groups, as well as with President Robert Mugabe, followed by a working session with the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC). During a stop in Kinshasa, DRC, they are to hold a working dinner with MONUC, and meet with President Kabila and other senior officials as well as representatives of civil society groups.

While in Angola, Council members are set to meet with President Eduardo Dos Santos and have a joint meeting with the Political Committee of the Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement. In Uganda, the delegation will meet with President Yoweri Museveni, and with Jean-Pierra Bemba, and in Tanzania with President Benjamin Mkapa.

The programme in Burundi includes encounters with President Pierre Buyoya, deputy President Domitien Ndayizeye, and other senior officials. While in Rwanda, the Council delegation is expected to holds talks with President Paul Kagame and meet with an exploratory delegation of former Rwandan armed groups.