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DR Congo: UN mission supporting security planning for upcoming peace talks

DR Congo: UN mission supporting security planning for upcoming peace talks

MONUC press conference in Goma
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is supporting the Government in security preparations for an upcoming conference aimed at bringing peace and development to the troubled eastern region of the vast African nation.

In a news release, the mission – known by its French acronym MONUC – said it has transported several battalions of the national army (FARDC) to North Kivu in the past week to ensure the security of the peace conference, set to begin on 6 January in the provincial capital of Goma.

“As a component of the planning of security related to the organization of the Goma conference, FARDC battalions were transported by helicopter to improve the defence of Masisi and Katale,” said interim MONUC military spokesperson Colonel Samba Tall.

Last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his hope that the summit will help end a conflict that has caused tremendous suffering and has displaced of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Fighting has escalated in recent months between Government troops and rebels allied with the dissident army general, Laurent Nkunda, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes in North Kivu.

The UN refugee agency estimates that over the last year, a mix of conflict, military build-up and spiralling lawlessness has displaced 400,000 people in North Kivu – the worst displacement since the end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are an estimated 800,000 displaced people in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.

MONUC also reported the surrender of Nkunda dissidents at the mission’s bases, in spite of periodic skirmishes between various groups.

Several of those that surrendered were sent to brassage, Colonel Tall stated, referring to the process by which ex-fighters from armed groups are retrained to form part of the integrated brigades of the FARDC.

Ten combatants with the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front who surrendered in Bavi were also sent to brassage.

MONUC added that it has intensified its joint patrols with FARDC in South Kivu in an effort to improve security and aid humanitarian efforts in the province.