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Ross Mountain: Western Congo has not been forgotten

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MONUC - March 3, 2008

Ross Mountain, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC and resident UN Humanitarian coordinator, made a visit to Mbandaka, Equateur province on 1 March 2008, where he explained that western DRC has not been overlooked by MONUC and its international partners.

Ross Mountain, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC and resident UN Humanitarian coordinator, made a visit to Mbandaka, Equateur province on 1 March 2008, where he explained that western DRC has not been overlooked by MONUC and its international partners.

Mr. Mountain’s goal was to evaluate the humanitarian situation in the province, but also to meet the local authorities, as well as UN agency and NGO representatives, in order to assess the perspectives for the upcoming local elections.

Mr. Mountain was accompanied by a delegation of eight people, including the new UNDP country director in the DRC and his personal assistant in charge of electoral issues.

After a head to head meeting with MONUC Mbandaka head of office Guirane Ndiaye, Mr. Mountain met with local NGO’s and MONUC staff, before being received by the Governor of Equateur Mr. Jose Makila and members of the provincial assembly.

Mr. Makila painted a rather dark picture of the situation in Equateur, where the infant mortality rate is one of the highest in the country.

He also cited other problems, such as: “the reemergence of whooping-cough, malnutrition, the insecurity, in particular the problem of some 18,000 demobilised soldiers who have been abandoned to themselves, sexual violence, the absence of drinking water and electricity, as well as the lack of infrastructure and communications - roads and bridges - which asphyxiates the local economy.”

Mr. Mountain, who was on his sixth visit in six months to Mbandaka, expressed his satisfaction with the progress achieved in the DRC.

“A few years ago, five or six foreign armies occupied this country, but today none of those armies are here,” he declared.

Mr. Mountain was also pleased to see “the DRC advancing, with the first democratically elected institutions in over forty years.”

In answer to the “complaints” of the local authorities who expressed their feelings of frustration that “all activities are concentrated in eastern DRC, as if Equateur did not form part of the country,” Mr. Mountain admitted that this was because of the security situation in the east.

He said that the west should not feel abandoned, as he announced that Equateur had just been selected as the pilot province for a UNDP local governorship project.

Inviting the population of Equateur to firstly count on themselves, Mr. Mountain said that the United Nations will remain always present at the side of the Congolese, to support them in their rebuilding efforts.

He underlined that like the general elections of 2006, MONUC and all its international partners will also give all their support for the organisation of the next municipal, local and urban elections in DRC.

Mr. Mountain concluded his visit with the official launch of four MONUC Quick Impact Projects (QUIPs) in Equateur. Two of these projects relate to the rehabilitation of buildings for provincial ministers, while another relates to the reinforcement of a transit centre for children from broken families.


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