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     UNIS/SG/2339
    17 August 1999
    Secretary-General very Concerned about Clashes since Last Weekend
     In Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo

     

    NEW YORK, 16 August (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement is attributable to the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

     The Secretary-General is very concerned about the clashes since the last weekend in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), between Congolese rebel factions, with reported involvement of troops from Rwanda and Uganda.  He is particularly concerned lest these clashes further complicate the ongoing regional and international efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in the Great Lakes.

     The fighting has led to the death of civilians and trapped hundreds of women and children in health centres, where children were being vaccinated, as part of the ongoing immunization campaign against polio, organized by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). This development violates a truce for the period of 8 to 20 August, endorsed by all parties following a request made by the Secretary-General.  "It is unacceptable that this fighting is taking place during the national immunization days, which were supposed to provide the opportunity for some 10 million children to be immunized against polio."

     The Secretary-General urges an immediate end to the fighting between troops from Uganda and Rwanda, and the rebel factions.  He invites the rebel leaders to take urgent steps to sign the cease-fire agreement for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  He also hopes that immediate measures will be taken to allow for the return of the women and children trapped at the health centres to their homes, and to ensure that humanitarian agencies have access to the wounded.  He trusts that all parties will take immediate measures to halt this flagrant violation of universal humanitarian principles.
     

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