Security is DR Congo's main problem: UN official

22nd June 2010, Comments 0 comments

The lack of security is the biggest problem in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed groups have been multiplying and committing more violent acts against civilians, a UN official said Tuesday.

"The number one problem of the country is security," said Max Hadorn, who is the DR Congo country director for the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"Armed groups are increasing in parallel with the recruitment of child soldiers and an increase in violence, notably sexual violence," said Hadorn, adding that it is the "most worrying problem at the moment."

He acknowledged that since 2007 and the arrival of President Joseph Kabila," there is a certain number of positive events that has allowed most of the country to stabilise."

However, the growing violence in the east of the country -- Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu Orientale and Equateur provinces remains a "significant thorn" in the development of the country, he noted.

While armed groups such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) are active in the two Kivus, Ugandan rebels -- the Lord's Resistance Army is active in the Orientale province, he added.

Hadorn noted that LRA violence has been growing since December 2009.

"I have never seen worse, they cut off ears, lips and send these (mutilated) people back to send a message of terror," he said.

In 2010, some 300 people have been killed and 300 kidnapped in the LRA-plagued region.

Orientale province also counts about 300,000 displaced people. Another 15,000 to 20,000 refugees have fled to southern Sudan since September 2008.

Not only are civilians hit, but across the country "since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 80 attacks against aid agencies, mainly of local and national NGOs," Hadorn said.

The UN official also noted that funding from donors has fallen from a year ago.

The UN has only received 35 percent of an appeal for 827 million dollars. A year ago at this time, donors had stumped up 54 percent of required funding.

"The financial crisis and the Haiti effect had drained resources and affected humanitarian aid on a global level," said Hadorn.

© 2010 AFP

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