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Abuses continue around UN buffer zone

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KINSHASA, 7 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - Combatants are committing human rights violations near the town of Kanyabayonga in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) despite an uneasy calm following the creation of a UN buffer zone, a UN official said on Thursday.

"The insurgents have not yet returned to the positions they held before the fighting broke and deserters from the regular Congolese army in the area continue to sow disorder, pillaging and committing human rights violations," Eliane Nabaa, a spokeswoman for the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, said.

"Many of the civilians displaced by the fighting are not returning home," she said.

MONUC estimated that 150,000 people in Kanyabayonga and other towns in North Kivu Province had been displaced by the recent fighting.

MONUC reported that human rights also deteriorated in December in Walikale, an area 140 km west of Goma, capital of North Kivu, with summary executions and abductions by members of the former rebel faction Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie (RCD-Goma) and former Mayi-Mayi militiamen. Both groups have officially been integrated into the national army.

The creation of a buffer zone has allowed humanitarian groups to launch relief operations. Aid groups "started a first phase of providing essential medicine," Laurent Guepin, the head of MONUC's Humanitarian Affairs section, said.

MONUC also led a team to the area in December to investigate abuses and issued a report. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his latest report on MONUC to the UN Security Council, said he was "profoundly troubled" and called on the government to do more "to more stop the abuses" and condemn human rights violations.

Annan recently held talks with Congolese government officials about the problems, a UN official told IRIN on Thursday in the DRC capital, Kinshasa.


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