DRC conflict causing 'widespread panic'

Aug. 2, 2013 at 1:12 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- Violence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is causing "widespread panic" for refugees fleeing the violence, a U.N. official said Friday.

Patrick McCormick, a spokesman for UNICEF, said Friday from Geneva recent violence in eastern DRC has forced more than 66,000 people, half of whom are children, to flee the country to Uganda.

"Many of the refugee children recounted chaotic scenes of armed attacks in the middle of the night, causing widespread panic and individual family members to flee in different directions to avoid being killed," he said during a Friday press conference.

The U.N. Security Council this year gave a brigade within the peacekeeping mission a mandate to use force to ensure security in eastern DRC. A Thursday deadline from the mission for the rebel March 23 Movement to disarm passed without incident. The mission said it would take "all necessary measures" to disarm them.

The U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations said Thursday it was in the final stages of procuring unmanned aerial vehicles for trial use by peacekeepers in the DRC.

A spokesman for the United Nations said the drones would be used to monitor the movement of rebel forces.

"Of course, its payload does not include weapons," he said. "The deployment of the UAV is planned in the coming weeks."

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