12 May 2006

Congo-Kinshasa: Militia Group Comes Forward to Enter Disarmament Process

A group of around 250 members of a renegade militia in the troubled Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have come forward to enter the country's disarmament and reintegration process, the United Nations mission in the country (MONUC) said today.

The group, part of the so-called Mayi-Mayi militia that linger from the country's devastating civil war, was armed with around 100 rifles, two rocket-propelled grenade launchers and four machine guns in bad condition, MONUC added.

Since last November, tens of thousands of people have fled fighting and reported human rights abuses in Katanga, as the DRC's army attempted to flush out militias in the province.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today that three months after the launch of the 2006 Action Plan for the DRC, which aims to provide relief aid and promote stability in country, the international community has met just 13 per cent of identified needs, delivering only $90 million of the $682 requested.

"It is depressing to see that funding is still so low, given that the United Nations has declared 2006 the Year of the DRC," said Ross Mountain, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in the country. "Underfunding can be as deadly as the armed conflict that the country is experiencing," he warned.

Despite the democratization process that is underway in the DRC, including plans for the first free and fair elections in the country's history, at least 10 million Congolese continue to suffer from the consequences of a decade of conflict, Mr. Mountain said.

He urged previous donors to double their contributions and new donors "to step up and help out in addressing one of the greatest tasks facing the humanitarian community today."

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