Amid reports of persistent violence and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), members of the United Nations Security Council today strongly condemned the recent activities of rebel groups in the volatile northeast of the country and called for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from the territory.
In a statement to the press, the Council's President, Ambassador Adolfo Aguilar Zinser of Mexico, said the members of the 15-nation body demanded the immediate cessation of the fighting and massacres in the eastern part of the DRC, and all that might delay or hinder the establishment of the new transitional government.
"They called on all Congolese parties, and those who have influence over them in the region, to ensure that the transitional government in the DRC is established as soon as possible," he said, adding that the members called on the parties to cooperate with the newly-created Ituri Pacification Committee.
"Members of the Council condemned the massacres perpetrated in the Ituri area and asked that the perpetrators be identified and brought to justice," Ambassador Zinser said, adding that members had requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, to initiate an investigation into the events and report his findings to the Council as soon as possible.
The Council condemned the recent offensive launched by the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Goma (RCD-Goma) in eastern DRC, and ordered the group to immediately withdraw its troops to agreed positions, the President said. Members also called on the Ugandan forces to withdraw from the territory of the DRC immediately, and recalled that "so long as they are deployed on the ground, these forces have the responsibility of the safety of the civilian population."
The Council's strong condemnation of the ongoing conflict in the DRC was echoed by Mr. Vieira de Mello, who vowed in a statement issued from Geneva earlier today that reports of mass killings and other "intolerable" acts would be thoroughly investigated and that the perpetrators would be held accountable. "Gravely alarmed" by the reports out of Drodro, the High Commissioner called on all the parties in the Ituri region to respect human rights and promote the rule of law.
The reported massacre, near Bunia last Thursday, came just a day after a peace agreement was signed in South Africa marking the end of months of talks between the government, opposition parties, civil groups, militia and rebels.
Today, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the bodies of at least 960 victims have been recovered. The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), meanwhile was forced to distribute medical supplies to survivors by helicopter because the security situation on the ground remained very dangerous.
of Council President's statement to the press