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DR Congo: UN peacekeepers deployed to east after rebel attacks

20 August 2008 – United Nations peacekeepers and soldiers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been jointly deployed in the eastern provinces of Ituri and Orientale to protect civilians after attacks by the rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

A spokesman for the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC), Michel Bonnardeaux, told a press briefing today that the Ugandan rebel group had attacked and robbed villages around Duru over the past week. He said the Ituri Patriotic Front had also launched sporadic attacks in the Irumu area, and remained a serious threat.

MONUC went on to report further unrest in eastern DRC, including continued regrouping and recruitment by the Mayi-Mayi in North Kivu.

Meanwhile, the head of MONUC in Goma, Alpha Sow, has welcomed a decision by the Congolese armed forces to set up committees to deal with rapes and other human rights abuses by their soldiers. These committees, which will be established in all DRC’s military regions, will include officers from the regional military unit and from MONUC. They will be charged with monitoring human rights violations by DRC forces, caring for victims and ensuring that the legal process takes its course.

“MONUC’s mission here is to support every effort to protect the population, particularly women and children,” Mr. Sow said. “Our support for these committees is unconditional.”

Aid agencies say that eastern DRC continues to be plagued by serious human rights abuses, seven months after the signing of peace accords at the Kivus conference in January.

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