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Security Council extends UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo until October

29 July 2004 With the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) posing a threat to international peace and security in the region, the United Nations Security Council today extended the peacekeeping mission in the Great Lakes country until the beginning of October.

The 15-member body also asked Secretary-General Kofi Annan to report by mid-August on how the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) is carrying out its mandate.

The Council was "deeply concerned by the ongoing tensions and by the continuation of hostilities in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly in the provinces of North and South Kivu, as well as in the Ituri district," the resolution said.

In a press briefing yesterday in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, MONUC spokesman Hamadoun Touré said the coming two months would be used to assess the mission's needs and resources as the country prepares for elections scheduled for next year.

MONUC military spokesman Maj. About Thiam said minor clashes between Government troops and fighters alleged to be loyal to renegade Gen. Laurent Nkunda -with no apparent objective - had displaced over 30,000 people in the Kahele region.

"Humanitarian organizations are busy trying to bring emergency assistance to the displaced, mostly those in the Mabula Peninsula," he said. "MONUC is conducting patrols in this part of the country. The mission is also talking with the parties to stop the situation from deteriorating further."

He also described how in the northeastern Ituri district, MONUC had designated five gathering places for members of five armed militias to take part in the disarmament and community reintegration programme due to be launched on 1 September.

Those qualified to join the national army could choose to do so, while others would be trained in farming, carpentry, bricklaying or building construction, Major Thiam said.

To start establishing a new police force, MONUC experts, along with representatives of donor countries and the international community, would hold a workshop next month for 90 participants, Mr. Touré said.

In another development, Mr. Touré reported that MONUC had destroyed over a dozen 60-mm mortar shells, one 81-mm shell and three 120-mm shells in Katanga province. The ordnance had been found in residential areas "thanks to the collaboration of the local population," he said.

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