DR of Congo: UN mission patrols Bunia, reassures local population

20 May 2003

With the relative calm holding in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations mission in the country continues to patrol the town of Bunia, trying to ease ethnic tensions and reassure the terrified local population.

According to a UN spokesman in New York, the overall situation in the DRC remains calm, but tense. The UN Organization Mission (MONUC) has been conducting patrols in Bunia, in order to reduce tensions and reassure the local population, much of which is in town during the day, returning to the area around MONUC headquarters at night for safety, Stephane Dujurric de la Riviere said.

Meanwhile, the remains of the two UN military observers killed last week in Mongbwalu have been transported back to Kinshasa. MONUC has begun a detailed investigation, in order to establish the facts from among the many conflicting accounts of what took place. "The UN is also taking very seriously reports of threats made against other UNMOs as well as civilian staff," Mr. Dujurric de la Riviere said.

In Kinshasa, discussions by the parties on the distribution of military and ministerial posts for the transitional government remain deadlocked. MONUC and the International Commission for the Support of the Transition are working with those concerned to break the deadlock.

On the humanitarian front, aid workers continue to provide urgently needed assistance to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in town and at the airport in Bunia. Additional staff from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) returned to Bunia today, bringing with them stocks of medicines. Limited amounts of water are also now available.

The spokesman said IDP flows out of Bunia are still of concern to the humanitarian community. To this end, UN officials planned tomorrow to undertake a humanitarian assessment mission outside of Bunia, to determine the situation of IDPs outside of the town.


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