DR Congo

DR Congo: Blue helmets need to stay to prevent armed intervention - Alain LeRoy

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With the precarious security situation in North Kivu, it will be necessary for MONUC's peacekeepers to stay in the region to prevent intervention by armed groups, no matter who they are, according to the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy.

Mr LeRoy, who arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo last weekend, immediately went to Goma, with the head of MONUC, SRSG Alan Doss, and the Deputy Special Representative and Co-ordinator of Humanitarian Operations in DRC, Ross Mountain.

Mr LeRoy and the United Nations team visited Kirotshe, 40 kilometres to the south of Goma, in Masisi region. MONUC has deployed a mobile base for its peacekeepers there. The security situation in the area remains precarious because, according to people who live there, CNDP combatants are in the hills not far away.

In such a situation, Mr. LeRoy considers reinforcing MONUC 's strength in the region essential so it can effectively fulfil its mandate of protecting civilians: "MONUC is here to prevent all fighting in the region, it is very important that it remains here. We are not going to undermine this place, because it is a very important place. We saw it a few weeks ago, so we are not going to reduce our force here. We will take forces from other areas to bring them to Goma," he said to Radio Okapi.

During a news conference with journalists in New York, from Goma yesterday, Mr. LeRoy said he had come to DRC to "see how MONUC could have its mandate reinforced". The Under-Secretary-General said that while MONUC has 17 000 peacekeepers, they are spread out in several regions. and that they must try to keep the peace on several geographical fronts, notably in North-Kivu, South-Kivu, in Ituri, and in a number of other zones where pockets of violence persist. Emphasising MONUC's mandate to protect civilian populations, Mr. LeRoy said that the crisis is most serious in Goma and the surrounding region.