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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Thursday 15 April 2004

BURUNDI-DRC: Deployment of UN Kivu Brigade under way

NAIROBI, 15 Apr 2004 (IRIN) - Deployment of a brigade of UN peacekeeping troops to the Kivus, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), remains on track and the entire unit could be operational by 31 May, the military spokesman of the UN Mission in the DRC, Maj Abdou Thiam, said on Wednesday.

"The brigade headquarters is already set up in Bukavu," he said at a news conference in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. "Some of the Uruguayan blue helmets have already arrived in Uvira. The South Africans will soon deploy to Rutshuru."

When fully deployed, he said, the unit, known as the Kivu Brigade, would operate along the entire DRC-Burundi frontier. This was the reason for the visit to the Kivus and Burundi by the commander of UN forces in the DRC, Gen Samaila Iliya.

In Burundi, Iliya met the Burundian chief of general staff, Germain Niyoyankana, to discuss the deployment. Thiam said that the close proximity of Bujumbura's airport to Bukavu would make the Burundian capital ideal to serve the brigade's activities.

Iliya also held talks with the Burundian army's chief of operations, Brig-Gen Celestin Ndahyisaba; the special representative of the UN Secretary General in Burundi, Berhanu Dinka; the chairman of the Joint Ceasefire Commission, El Hadj Alioune Samba; and other civilian and military officials. Thiam said these meeting centred on the coordination of efforts to monitor the DRC-Burundi border and enforce the arms embargo in eastern DRC.

During his visit to the eastern city of Goma, Iliya met the commander of the 8th Military Region, Gen Obed Rwibasira, for discussions on the coordination of UN troops and those of the Armed Forces of the DRC. Together they toured the province of North Kivu, where Obed addressed his men. The tour also presented Iliya with an opportunity to express condolences to the South African contingent, which lost six soldiers on 6 April when their armoured vehicle plunged into a river.


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