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UN mission chief attends donors' conference for elections in DR of Congo

UN mission chief attends donors' conference for elections in DR of Congo

William Lacy Swing
The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is in Belgium today taking part in a donors' conference organized by the European Union (EU) to raise funds for the electoral process under way in the central African country as it emerges from years of violence, the mission said.

At the Brussels conference, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, William Lacy Swing, was particularly focused on persuading potential donors that the electoral process is working well, as exemplified by the million voters registered in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, in just two weeks, the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) said.

The total needed to carry out the elections was high at $430 million, but had to be raised from the $285 million proposed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) because of the need, in a country with almost non-existent infrastructure, to airlift election materials to 166 polling stations and to put security in place at each site, it said.

After the pledging conference, Mr. Swing leaves Brussels for New York, where he is scheduled to brief the Security Council on Wednesday on DRC developments.

Meanwhile, MONUC said it has been working to upgrade prison conditions in Kasaï Oriental Province. It has pointed out "inhumane conditions, barely imaginable, which result in illnesses and death," where, among other things, food supplies are meagre, sanitation is poor or absent, women and children are jailed together with men in tightly packed cells and families complain of not being able to visit imprisoned relatives.

In this regard, through a MONUC initiative, prisoners in the Kasaï mining town of Mbuji-Mayi were to receive 30 tons of food and other materials collected from the community. The contribution also included five free legal consultations from a local lawyer, it said.