29 October 2008
Secretary-General
SG/SM/11892
AFR/1762
PKO/198

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

SECRETARY-GENERAL ALARMED AT ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE IN EASTERN DEMOCRATIC


REPUBLIC OF CONGO, WARNS OF POSSIBLE ‘CATASTROPHIC’ HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

 


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


The Secretary-General is alarmed at the escalation of violence in North Kivu in the past 24 hours.  The intensification and expansion of the conflict is creating a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic dimensions and threatens dire consequences on a regional scale.  He calls on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and to respect international humanitarian law.  He deplores the use of civilians as human shields and their deliberate targeting by belligerents.


He appeals to all those with influence on forces on the ground to do everything possible to restore an effective ceasefire and prevent further suffering in the civilian population.  He calls especially for an end to all threats against the city of Goma and its environs, for a halt to attacks on United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers and for immediate humanitarian access to endangered populations.


The Secretary-General is particularly alarmed at the reported exchange of heavy weapons across the Democratic Republic of the Congo-Rwanda border and deplores the apparent targeting of United Nations peacekeepers at Kibumba.


The collapse of discipline in units of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), which have reportedly engaged in looting, is especially worrying.  The Secretary-General calls on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to spare no effort establishing control over its forces and bringing a stop to FARDC attacks on the United Nations and associated personnel.


The Secretary-General expresses his profound appreciation to the troops and civilians serving in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), who are doing everything possible to protect civilians and fulfil their mandate in untenable circumstances.  MONUC will use all necessary means, within the limits of its capacity, to carry out its mandate.


Throughout the last 48 hours, the Secretary-General has been in contact with key leaders in the region and in the international community to urge immediate steps to halt the fighting.  He will continue his efforts to this end.


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For information media • not an official record