More than 500 combatants disarmed in northeast DR of Congo – UN mission

21 March 2005

Some 500 fighters from a militia in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and 50 from another armed group have voluntarily disarmed to join the Disarmament and Community-based Reintegration (DCR) process, the United Nations mission in the Great Lakes nation said today.

In the Aru area of Ituri district, 400 fighters from the Armed Forces of the Congolese People (FAPC) handed up 310 individual weapons and 20 group-operated weapons yesterday and another 100 disarmed today.

"The estimated number of FAPC combatants willing to take part in the DCR process in Aru is at about 2,000," the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said.

In addition, 50 members of the Nationalist Integrationist Front (FNI) were disarmed in the village of Kodikoka, near Mahagi in the north, it said.

"The latest arms hand-over comes in the wake of recent MONUC military operations, as well as repeated calls aimed at encouraging armed groups to give in their weapons," it added.

Although MONUC called the two-day disarmament "promising first steps," it said the process was expected to be "long and difficult."