DR Congo

DR Congo: Secretary-General calls on all parties to respect ceasefire, seeks support for UN humanitarian relief efforts

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The following statement was issued today by the Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General calls on all parties to respect the ceasefire in Goma. He calls on nations to help the United Nations humanitarian relief efforts and works with a variety of world leaders to promote political negotiations to resolve the crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Secretary-General kept to his scheduled itinerary in Asia this week, but has been fully engaged diplomatically in the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Today, the Secretary-General asked Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy to travel to the region. His Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Alan Doss, travelled to Goma today to review the situation. He was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer and Ambassadors of the Security Council. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Haile Menkerios had earlier been sent to Kigali and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet to Kinshasa.

Over the last two days, the Secretary-General spoke with Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jakaya Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania (as President of the African Union) and Nicholas Sarkozy of France; with Chairman Jean Ping of the African Union Commission and High Representative Javier Solana of the European Union, as well as with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Secretary David Miliband of Britain, as well as others.

With each, he stressed the importance of doing everything possible to consolidate the current ceasefire and halt further violence. Humanitarian workers must be able to work without hindrance.

In all his discussions, the Secretary-General urged these leaders to do all they can to bring the parties to a neutral venue for negotiations. Mr. Kikwete and Mr. Ping both suggested calling a regional summit, with Dar-es-Salaam or Addis Ababa as possible sites.

The Secretary-General also discussed the appointment of a United Nations Special Envoy. He further emphasized that the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) must be given the additional resources it needs to carry out its mandate.

The Secretary-General was reassured to learn that some humanitarian relief supplies were delivered today. Nonetheless, he remains deeply concerned over the plight of the civilian population. Many thousands of people have been displaced. There are preliminary reports that several camps for internally displaced people near Rutshuru may have been looted and burned. MONUC human rights officers are investigating reports of widespread violations of human rights and humanitarian laws.

The Secretary-General wants to use this opportunity to warn all parties of their accountability for such violations.

The Secretary-General commends MONUC troops and staff for professionally carrying out their duties under extremely difficult circumstances. In accordance with its usual practice, MONUC units patrolled the streets of Goma last night to minimize looting and protect the civilian population in the face of a near-total collapse of local authority.

As the only organized force currently maintaining security in Goma, MONUC has done its utmost to protect civilians and humanitarian workers. The Secretary-General urges, therefore, the Security Council to expedite its efforts to support or complement MONUC at this difficult time.

For information media - not an official record