Tuesday, February 21, 2006

1,200 people die every day as result of conflict in DRC: UN confirms 6 ex-rebels die of hunger


Photo: Mai Mai fighters are being integrated into the army - BBC report 17 Feb 2006:

Six former rebels who were being integrated into the Democratic Republic of Congo's army have died of hunger, the United Nations has confirmed.

The ex-Mai Mai fighters were at a training camp in Kamina in the east.

The UN says it has repeatedly protested that rations and payments are not reaching ex-rebels in training centres.

Under the terms of the 2002 peace deal, rebel militia are being integrated into the army as the country prepares for elections to be held by June.

Eighteen army brigades are supposed to be fully trained by the middle of this year, but the UN says that so far only six are fully functional.

Some 17,000 UN peacekeepers are in DR Congo in the lead-up to parliamentary and presidential polls due in April, in what will be DR Congo's first national multi-party elections for four decades.

A possible presidential run-off will take place in early June.

Conflict is still continuing in the east, where bands of militia groups still terrorise civilians and use the rich minerals and timber of the region to finance their operations.

The Mai Mai militiamen were a nationalist Congolese government reserve in the east of the country

Several neighbouring countries - including Rwanda and Uganda - were drawn into DR Congo's brutal conflict which led to some 3m deaths.

The BBC's World Affairs correspondent Mark Doyle says the Mai Mai are fiercely nationalistic and implacably anti-Rwanda.

On Monday, the UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said the after-effects of the five-year conflict were responsible for the deaths of some 1,200 people every day.

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