Top UN official in DR Congo visits Kananga to assess security, Ebola situation

26 September 2007

Concerned over the political and security situation on the ground, as well the threat to United Nations staff posed by the deadly Ebola virus, the world body’s top official in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has just concluded a visit to the city of Kananga in the western Kasai province.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN mission (MONUC) William Lacy Swing impressed upon local officials during his visit to the province yesterday that the decision to move UN troops to the DRC’s troubled eastern region is only for the short term.

“The temporary withdrawal of MONUC military from Kananga was a strategic decision to fulfil military requirements elsewhere, but I will not cease making pleas for financial backers to come to the aid of Congo and Kasai Occidental,” he noted.

The province’s Governor Trésor Kapuku underscored MONUC’s crucial role in bringing economic prosperity to the area.

“If these efforts by MONUC are reduced now, it will have a counter-productive effect for the future of the province,” he said.

Mr. Swing presented the Governor with 367 mattresses to be distributed to area hospitals through MONUC’s Quick Impact Projects programme.

“One knows one’s friends in times of difficulty,” Governor Kapuku said, expressing his gratitude.

Later, Mr. Swing attended a town hall meeting at which MONUC staff aired their concerns regarding the recent Ebola outbreak and security issues.

The Special Representative assured UN staff that upon returning to the capital Kinshasa, he will establish a commission to seek out immediate solutions to these issues.

Last week, the UN announced that of some 400 cases of illness and 170 deaths reported since April in the Kasai Occidental province, nine cases of the virus, which causes death in 50 to 90 per cent of cases, have been confirmed.

 

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