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Uneven progress in DR Congo, UN reports

30 September 2009 – Progress critical to stabilization in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been uneven, with some rebels being reintegrated into the national army while others continued to attack civilians, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon writes in a new report.

“The humanitarian situation remained precarious during the reporting period due to large-scale population displacements; human rights violations by armed men, including rapes, killings and lootings; impeded humanitarian access; and security incidents against humanitarian workers,” he says in the report to the Security Council on the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), covering July to September.

The total number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the DR Congo is estimated at 2.2 million, of whom an estimated 1.7 million people remain displaced in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, with more than 400,000 persons having fled their homes since January.

“The challenges that remain in the Kivus are formidable and have the potential to impede the consolidation of peace and stability in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo if not handled in a timely and comprehensive manner,” Mr. Ban writes.

“I urge the Congolese Government to take the necessary steps, with the assistance of MONUC and other partners, to keep the integration process on track and to bring it to a successful conclusion, including by ensuring the regular payment of FARDC [national army] salaries and by building barracks for the soldiers based in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” he adds.

While some rebels, including members of the Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP), continued their integration into FARDC in accordance with agreements signed in March, military operations against the mainly Rwandan Hutu rebel group, Forces

démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), advanced into South Kivu.

FDLR and the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continued to attack civilians in the Kivus and Orientale province, respectively, resulting in new population displacements and in Ituri province, to the north, two residual armed groups, the Forces de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FRPI) and the Front populaire pour la justice au Congo (FPJC), continued to attack and loot civilians in the Irumu area.

“Elements of FARDC also conducted exactions against civilians, although some progress was reported in the areas of military justice and discipline within FARDC,” Mr. Ban writes, adding that he is encouraged by Government steps against impunity for sexual violence and other human rights violations by army elements in the Kivus.

But the human rights situation throughout the country continues to cause serious concern. “During the reporting period, MONUC observed an increase in reported human rights violations perpetrated by foreign armed groups but also, at times, by Government security forces, some of which were perceived to be ethnically motivated,” he says.

“Sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained severe during the reporting period, with rapes and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated by armed groups, security forces and, increasingly, civilians.”

Mr. Ban urges all parties, particularly the authorities, to ensure the full operation of the local conciliation committees and the appointment of territorial administrators and their assistants, and to expedite the appointment of members of the former armed groups to administrative positions as foreseen in the March agreements.

He also calls on Member States to act against FDLR leaders based in their countries to cut off support which is known to be provided to the rebel group in the DRC.

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