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UN mission reports early success in demobilization efforts in eastern DR Congo

UN News Centre - February 12, 2007

Congo Map The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has reported early successes in the disarmament campaign it is carrying out around the town of Beni, close to the country's eastern border with Uganda.

The Beni office of the UN Mission, also known as MONUC, launched a sensitization programme via radio last month targeted at the roughly 1,000 Congolese and Ugandan rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF/NALU).

In the broadcasts which aim to persuade young rebels to give up their weapons, the methods available to renounce the rebellion with honour, as well as ways to return to their respective countries with MONUC's assistance, are explained. To reach the widest audience possible, the programme is broadcasted in such languages as Swahili, Kinade/Lukonjo, Ugandan, French and English.

On 13 January, two rebel Ugandans, ages 23 and 27, who had been forced to join the ADF/NALU when they were 14 and 16, surrendered.

Rebels are banned from listening to disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration and reinsertion (DDRRR) programming, yet "it was through word of mouth that both soldiers had the chance to listen to the broadcasts with their colleagues," according to Major Rohit Mishra and Mwitiravali Sikuli of MONUC.

"Both ex-combatants really wished to join the DDRRR programme, and renounce their part in an illegal rebellion which was being made less and less justifiable by the major political changes taking place in both Uganda and the DRC," they added.

Despite the formal end in 1999 of a civil war, widely considered the most lethal conflict since World War II, which cost 4 million lives due to fighting, hunger and disease, threats to law and order remain. MONUC has overseen the country's transition, culminating in a landmark multi-party election in 2006, the country's first in over four decades.

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