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UN troops help 'neutralise' DRC militia

25 June 2015, 11:22

Kinshasa - The United Nations said on Wednesday that around a quarter of Congolese militia group the Patriotic Revolutionary Forces of Ituri (FRPI) had been "neutralised" after a three-week military operation.

The Congolese army, backed by UN peacekeeping troops, launched an offensive against the FRPI in early June, leaving 35 people dead, 52 wounded, and 36 captured alive, according to Martin Kobler, head of the UN's Monusco mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kobler said the UN had provided military aid, including attack helicopters and drones, as well as logistical support.

The operation indicates bridge-building between Kinshasa and the UN peacekeepers after several months of tensions over which Congolese leaders should lead joint missions.

Ituri, in the DR Congo's northeast, has experienced a resurgence in violence in recent months after the surrender of FRPI leader Cobra Matata in November.

Also Read: Congo police abused illegal immigrants in crackdown

The FRPI is one of many militias formed along largely ethnic lines that fought in Ituri between 1999 and 2007 for a stake in the region's rich natural resources, including gold.

Several thousands of FRPI militants and many more from other rebel forces accepted demobilisation in 2004-2006, but the group began reforming in late 2007.

The UN announcement came as Kobler also urged the Congolese government and the international community to fund the demobilisation and reintegration of former rebels, adding that the programme was suffering delays.

"We need more money, because without money we cannot act," Kobler told a press conference in Kinshasa.

The German diplomat said Monusco had unblocked $6m for the programme, but "the international community is a bit reluctant to give us more money at the moment because the Congolese government's contribution is not clear."

Under plans for the programme, the Congolese government is supposed to provide $10 million, but has so far only stumped up $1.5m, Kobler said.



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