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Security Council seeks boost in UN mission to monitor situation in DR of Congo

Security Council seeks boost in UN mission to monitor situation in DR of Congo

With the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continuing to pose a threat to international peace and security in the region, the Security Council today asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan to boost the number of United Nations military observers and humanitarian staff throughout the country to help monitor developments on the ground.

While commending the Congolese parties on an agreement reached earlier this month to establish a transitional government, the Council reiterated that all groups claiming a role in the future of the DRC must demonstrate their respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as the security and well being of civilians.

In unanimously adopting a new resolution today, the Council stressed that there would be no impunity for human rights abuses carried out in the DRC, and condemned the continuing massacres and other systematic violations of international humanitarian law in the country, particularly sexual violence against women and girls as tools of warfare and the recent atrocities and unrelenting violence perpetrated at the hands of rebel groups and armed militias operating in the Ituri area.

The Council asked the Secretary-General to boost the number of personnel in the human rights component of the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) to assist and enhance the capacity of the Congolese parties to investigate all serious violations of international humanitarian law perpetrated in the country since the conflict began in August 1998. The resolution also renews the Council’s earlier demand that all parties to the conflict immediately provide information on steps they have taken towards protecting children and ending recruitment of child soldiers.

Expressing deep concern over the heavy fighting in the town of Bunia, the Council demanded that all parties to the conflict in the Ituri region cease hostilities immediately and sign an unconditional ceasefire. The Council stressed that the parties must cooperate with MONUC to set up the Ituri Pacification Commission immediately, as the necessary steps must be urgently taken to restore public order in Bunia.

In this connection, the 15-nation body requested the Secretary-General to increase MONUC’s presence in the Ituri area– in particular military observers and human rights personnel – as security conditions permit, to monitor developments on the ground, including the use of airfields in the area.

The Council also demanded that all governments in the Great Lakes region immediately cease military and financial support to all the parties engaged in armed conflict in the Ituri region, and reiterated that all foreign troops must be withdrawn from Congolese territory. In that connection, it called on Uganda to complete the withdrawal of all its troops without further delay, and expressed concern that Kampala’s commitment to withdraw by 20 March had not been met.