The United Nations Security Council welcomed the ceasefire agreement signed today for the volatile Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as the efforts by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to address the urgent humanitarian situation in Bunia.
In a statement read out during a formal meeting by its current President, Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, the Security Council condemned the recent "unacceptable" spate of violence, human rights violations and other atrocities in and around Bunia, and welcomed Mr. Annan's efforts to address the situation, including options for sending an emergency international force.
Council members encouraged the Secretary-General to complete consultations to that end as a matter of urgency, and demanded that all Congolese parties and the regional States involved in the ongoing conflict refrain from any action that could undermine the possible deployment of such an international force.
While welcoming the ceasefire reached by the parties in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and calling on them to fully implement its provisions, the Council nevertheless called on all parties in the region to end all support to armed groups and refrain from any action that might compromise the return to peace in Ituri.
The signatories to the ceasefire included President Joseph Kabila, representatives of the democratically elected Ituri Pacification Commission (IPC) - which rival militia and tribal groups agreed to set up late last month to manage the region until a new post-war national government takes over - and leaders of the various armed groups who have been fighting for control of the region's administrative capital, Bunia.
"[The Council] demands that all hostilities in Ituri cease immediately," Ambassador Akram said, adding that the members expressed concern for the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Bunia and demanded that all parties grant unimpeded access for humanitarian aid and guarantee the safety and security of humanitarian personnel. "It also calls on the donor community to continue to support the humanitarian organizations," he added.
Along with condemning the recent killings in Bunia, the Council also condemned the attacks against the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) and internally displaced persons who had sought refuge at the MONUC premises, and reiterated that there would be no impunity for such acts and that the perpetrators would be held accountable.