While welcoming the recent peace agreement reached among Congolese parties in Pretoria, members of the United Nations Security Council today expressed their deep concern about the fighting in Bunia and demanded an immediate end to the continuing hostilities in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The President of the Council, Ambassador Mamady Traoré of Guinea, said in a press statement late Monday that members stressed the importance of establishing the transitional Government in the DRC as soon as possible.
"Members of the Council demand that all parties ensure the security of civilian populations and guarantee full access of humanitarian organizations to those in need," Ambassador Traoré said. To that end, they demanded the immediate establishment of the Ituri Pacification Commission, which will have the power to ensure the safety of Bunia's population, and will eventually aim to secure a total and definite withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the area.
The Council recalled that the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territory of the DRC must now be completed, with members urging Uganda "to abide by its commitment to withdraw its troops by 20 March," the President of the 15-nation body said.
"Members of the Council reiterate their full support for United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo [MONUC]'s efforts to facilitate a peaceful settlement in the northeast of the DRC," he said.
Meanwhile on the ground in the DRC, as Ugandan troops and DRC rebels continue to struggle for control over the town of Bunia, the UN dispatched a mission to the area in a bid to calm tensions and pave the way for a local-level ceasefire.
The first goal of the multidisciplinary team - drawn from MONUC experts and headed by Vadim Perfiliev, Regional Director for the East - is to secure an agreement for the cessation of hostilities between the Union of the Congolese Patriots (UPC) and the Ugandan army.
Should conditions permit, the team will then proceed with the identification of the Ituri participants in the technical phase of meetings ahead of the establishment of the Ituri Pacification Commission, which will comprise representatives from the Governments of the DRC and Uganda, along with MONUC and other parties on the ground.