- With a ceasefire announcement by rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, in volatile east of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where recent intensified fighting has taken a heavy humanitarian toll, UN agency has confirmed an opening in distribution of food, but warned it was still not safe to move outside city of Goma.
World Food Programme (WFP) said it was able to distribute food to key nutritional centres and hospitals inside Goma on Wednesday, despite tension in town and conflict in surrounding countryside.
"In an effort to prepare for a potential movement of refugees from Goma, WFP Rwanda has pre-positioned enough food for 2,000 people at Nkamira transit centre in Gisenyi, just across border from Goma. UNICEF, UNHCR and UNFPA have also pre-positioned non-food items," agency said.
It however stated that it remains unable to move any food at all outside Goma given the intensity of fighting, hoping situation would change quickly and food dispatches can resume, particularly to those displaced in past few days.
In a presidential statement issued last night, 15-member UN Security Council welcomed ceasefire announced, saying that it looks to former Congolese army general who now heads militia known as National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) to “ensure its effective and durable implementation.”
Council however condemned CNDP’s recent military offensive in North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda and Uganda, calling for an end to the conflict.
It also spoke out against the “dramatic humanitarian consequences” of the fighting, urging all parties to abide by international law and protect civilians, guarantee access to those in need and ensure safety of aid workers.
“The Council affirms that any attack against the civilian population, including at major population centres, is totally unacceptable,” according to statement read out by Ambassador Zhang Yesui of China.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also reported today that 8,000 Congolese have taken flight and crossed border into Uganda, while yesterday it was said that as many as 45,000 people have fled camps for internally displaced persons for nearby Goma, North Kivu’s capital.
Security Council statement forther called on signatories to keep up their ends of recent peace agreements. “In this respect, the Security Council calls on the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda to take concrete steps to defuse tensions and to restore stability in the region.”
It also called on DRC’s government to take measures to ensure there is no cooperation between the Congolese forces (FARDC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a mainly Hutu militia group, while also expressing concern over reports of heavy fire being exchanged across the DRC-Rwanda border.
UNHCR said today that Goma is calm following a night of fierce shooting and widespread looting. But the agency said that security situation means it has no access to areas where internally displaced persons (IDPs) are taking shelter outside the city.
Reports of a ceasefire follows a heavy response by UN troops on rebels after days of lost hope, especially by civilians whose towns were being taken over by rebel group. Reports have however given no details as to the circumstances that could have forced General Nkunda to commit to a ceasefire, with speculation that he may have suffered serious losses at joint response.
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