The strife-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has remained relatively calm over the past two days apart from two skirmishes between Government troops and the PARECO/Mayi Mayi militia, the United Nations reported today.
No casualties were reported in the apparently isolated incidents in North Kivu province, where a recent upsurge in fighting between Government forces (FARDC) and a rebel militia (CNDP) led by renegade general Laurent Nkunda has driven at least 250,000 people from their homes.
The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) confirmed the recent arrival in the North Kivu capital, Goma, of some 3,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), with further movements of civilians across the Ugandan border.
UN aid agencies said they had restored full service for IDPs after week-long insecurity forced them to cut off some key elements. Distribution has resumed for health kits, immunization packages, fresh water and sanitation equipment, food and shelter. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said it is attempting to prevent and control an outbreak of cholera as the number of new cases has tripled to 150 a week.
On the political side, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on peace in the Great Lakes Region, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, will be travelling for a first round of consultations on the DRC, beginning tomorrow in Luanda, where he will meet with Angola's President José Eduardo dos Santos.
Later tomorrow he will fly to Kinshasa for an expected meeting with DRC President Joseph Kabila, followed by weekend discussions in Goma.
Meanwhile Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Deputy Special Representative for the DRC Leila Zerrougui has visited Kiwanja, 70 kilometres north of Goma and the scene of heavy fighting between Mayi-Mayi forces and the CNDP earlier this month, to assess MONUC’s ability to protect civilians.
She explained that MONUC was there to protect the population and not to fight Congolese military elements. “That’s not its mission, that’s not its mandate,” she said. “Our military have clear orders; they know they have to protect the people, even with limited means. They will do all they can to bring the necessary assistance to the people.”
She denounced the manipulation of the people, often against UN peacekeepers. “If people don’t show a friendly face to MONUC soldiers, they risk creating misunderstandings. MONUC must be allowed to protect the population so it can have good relations with them,” she told civil society organizations.