On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to the violence in the North Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The intensity of the conflict between Government forces (FARDC) and a militia group known as the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), led by former general Laurent Nkunda, has increased in the past several days .
Over the past several days, more than 45,000 people have fled internally displaced persons camps (IDPs) in North Kivu, while over 1,000 other Congolese have sought refuge in Uganda. The conflict between the FARDC and the CNDP, which began in August, has left 250,000 Congolese homeless and another 850,000 in IDPs.
Mr. Ban referenced “the use of civilians as human shields,” “the exchange of heavy weapons across the…DRC-Rwanda border,” “the collapse of discipline” among government forces, and “the targeting of UN peacekeepers” as particularly deplorable elements of the conflict. In addition, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) reported an inability to deliver over 100,000 metric tons of food due to the violence.
Nevertheless, Mr. Ban praised the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, MONUC, for its efforts to protect civilian lives. In recent days, he dispatched senior advisors to the region to meet with key leaders. Mr. Ban’s Special Representative Alan Doss emphasized, “What we want is for the CNDP to enter a process and stay in the process and remain committed to agreements they have signed.” To that end, Mr. Ban announced that “MONUC will use all necessary means, within the limits of its capacity to carry out its mandate,” which includes attempting to bring the CNDP and Congolese government to the negotiate in order to end what Mr. Ban has termed “a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic dimensions.”
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