Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on conflicting parties clashing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) troubled North Kivu province to allow humanitarian aid to reach civilians, who have been forced to flee their homes amid rapes and other atrocities associated with the fighting.
“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the increased displacement, human suffering, and sexual violence in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a result of fighting in the area between Congolese forces, dissident troops and armed militias, as well as elements of the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR),” a spokesperson for Mr. Ban said in a statement.
The UN’s efforts to help civilians caught up in the conflict are being hampered by prevailing insecurity, the Secretary-General said, calling on all belligerents “to ensure total and unrestricted access of humanitarian actors to civilians affected by the conflict, in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
The Secretary-General urged all dissidents to immediately and unconditionally join the “brassage” retraining programme for ex-combatants to become part of integrated DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) brigades.
He also called on the DRC Government to ensure the protection of all civilians in the region.
“These are essential first steps towards bringing an end to the suffering of the civilian population and towards resolving the root causes of the conflict, in particular the continued presence in the DRC of the FDLR and other foreign armed groups.”
Preliminary figures from a joint assessment mission by UN humanitarian agencies released yesterday indicate that over 33,000 people have now been displaced by recent fighting in the North Kivu region. This figure includes the more than 8,000 civilians who fled into Uganda over the past weekend.