Fighting reported in new area of Ituri region in DR of Congo - UN

22 May 2003

As the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to work out a plan with militia leaders to confine their combatants in the Ituri region, fighting has been reported in the northern part of that district in the area of Aru.

Meanwhile in Bunia, Hema militia remain in control of the town, while Lendu militia are located in the southern outskirts. The UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) continues to meet the Chiefs of Staff of the two militias on a regular basis, who are presently working out a plan - which will be discussed with the interim administration tomorrow - for the cantonment of their combatants.

The UN continues to patrol Bunia, and is looking into reports that anti-personnel mines have been freshly laid in the town. More than 300 bodies have been discovered so far, including some 32 bodies in a water-tank near the old governor's residence, which the UN is also investigating.

There has been no significant change in the status of internal displaced persons. Four hundred people moved yesterday to the Bunia airport after the UN mission encouraged them to move away from its Headquarters area. The UN is also assisting humanitarian agencies to meet the needs of the displaced - over 5 tons of food was distributed to 1,800 families yesterday.

In other news, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has informed the Security Council that he intends to appoint William Lacy Swing to succeed Amos Namanga Ngongi as his Special Representative for the DRC, and chief of MONUC.

Mr. Ngongi is scheduled to conclude his assignment on 30 June, with Mr. Swing's appointment taking effect 1 July.

Mr. Swing has been Mr. Annan's Special Representative for Western Sahara since November 2001. Prior to that, he was a career diplomat from the United States who served as a US Ambassador, mainly in Africa.

In his letter to the Council, the Secretary-General expressed deep appreciation for the outstanding work of Mr. Ngongi, in particular, his considerable contribution to the recent progress in the peace process in the DRC.


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