Press Briefing - Wednesday, 15 June 2005
"MONUC hails Tuesday's adoption of the Law on the Referendum as a key step in the electoral process," stated the UN mission's acting deputy spokesperson, Rachel Eklou Assogbavi, at the weekly briefing. However, "MONUC is concerned by increasing acts of gangsterism in Kinshasa and understands the population's apprehension." Replying to a question on whether MONUC troops would address the insecurity in Kinshasa, the military spokesman highlighted that these "criminal activities are legally-related matters. The Transitional Government's is responsible for security and law enforcement," Colonel Thierry Provendier said. He added, "MONUC calls on the authorities and the Interior minister, in particular, to meet the population's security expectations so that voter registration can start peacefully."
Referring to the disarmament programme for armed groups in north-eastern Ituri district, Rachel Eklou Assogbavi stated: "MONUC warns militiamen who have not yet disarmed and reiterates that with the exception of the Bunia, all other transit sites will be closed by June 25." "There will be no delay," she pointed out, noting that as of June 14, "14,827 persons including 4204 children have handed over their weapons."
MONUC is also deeply "concerned about persistent reports of illicit arms supplies in Ituri," and has "stepped up its patrols on Lake Albert," the military spokesman stated. Lake Albert, in Ituri, is the natural border between the DRC and Uganda.
"[Arms] supply routes are countless," added Lt. Col Provendier, stressing that in light of the arms embargo monitoring "MONUC has stepped up its border patrols, and the pressure maintained thus far makes illegal weapons supplies to DRC difficult and risky." However, "the effectiveness of this embargo relies on the cooperation of the nine States bordering the DRC," he noted. Referring to 11 June attack on MONUC section operating on Lake Albert, Lieutenant-colonel Thierry Provendier noted, "MONUC operations deter the few hard-liners militia who have so far failed to realise that disarming and returning to a civilian life is the only viable option."
MONUC mourns the death of two peacekeepers last week: a Uruguayan private run over by his platoon's truck on 11 June and an Indian peacekeeper who died of injuries sustained in an attack aimed at a civilian truck on the road Goma - Saké. In this respect, "MONUC and FARDC have initiated investigations to identify the perpetrators and ascertain the circumstances of this incident which took place near a FARDC-held check point," the military spokesman said.
On the occasion of the Day of the African Child, to be celebrated on 16 June, MONUC Child Protection section expressed serious concerns about the fate of children. While the intensity of the conflict has decreased, children are still among the victims of human rights Abuse in DRC", said Ms Daniela Baro who also reported that in Maniema province, "Under-18 girls account for 40% of the cases of sexual violence." She told the news conference that the ongoing integration of armed forces led to the release of "7908 children including 1082 girls." She however pointed out that child recruitment, notably in Ituri, continues. In this regard, MONUC welcomes "FARDC Auditor General's initiative in issuing clear instructions to the military staff to investigate and prosecute those who continue recruiting children," Daniela Baro said.