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DR Congo: UN envoy promises increased civilian protection in northwest

22 April 2010 – The top United Nations envoy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has pledged to strengthen its military presence in the northwestern province of Equateur to help the Government provide better protection for civilians following a deadly raid by rebels earlier this month on the regional capital.

Alan Doss, Special Representative of the Secretary General for DRC and head of MONUC, the UN peacekeeping force there, made the pledge when he visited Equateur’s provincial capital, Mbandaka, yesterday to show solidarity with the local people, provincial officials and UN staff in the city. He offered condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the attack, which took place on 4-5 April.

A UN peacekeeper, two contractors and reportedly several other people died in the attack, which mainly targeted the airport at Mbandaka.

Mr. Doss held several meetings with officials of the provincial administration, including the Governor of Equateur and the regional commander of DRC’s national army. He also met representatives of the international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the UN country team in the area.

He condemned the use of all forms of violence and urged insurgents to lay down their arms and respect the law and democratic institutions. Mr. Doss pointed out that Equateur is one of DRC’s poorest provinces and said residents of the province needed development not war.

Mr. Doss urged both civilian and military authorities in Mbandaka to work to restore trust between the public and soldiers and the police, stressing the importance of respecting human rights.

Recent clashes in Equateur have pitted ethnic Enyele militiamen against their Munzaya rivals. The violence has caused the displacement of tens of thousands of people.

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