Eastern DRC security concerns grow

May 24, 2013 at 1:23 PM
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LONDON, May 24 (UPI) -- The work of a U.N. intervention brigade in DRC may encourage stability though there are growing concerns about renewed fighting, a British minister said.

British Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds said he supported the work of a special unit within the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has a mandate for offensive operations.

The rebel March 23 Movement mutinied last year, accusing the DRC government of failing to uphold a peace agreement that saw the integration of some rebels into the national military. Simmonds said all parties to the re-emerging conflict should respect the laws of war.

"I am deeply concerned by the news that there has been renewed fighting in eastern DRC and its impact on the ordinary people of eastern DRC," he said in a statement.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said there were civilians caught in the crossfire between rebel and government forces in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. M23 seized Goma briefly last year.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim arrived in Goma this week as part of a three-day tour of the Great Lakes region of Africa.

Ban described a broad-based security framework for DRC as a "framework for hope." He expressed frustration with rampant human rights abuses, including the use of rape as a weapon of war. Development aid, however, and the U.N. intervention brigade may bring benefits to DRC.

"We have the best chance in many years to bring peace and calm to the region," he said in a statement.

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