8 April 2003

Secretary-General "Deeply Disturbed" at Reports of Massacres in Democratic Republic of Congo; Demands Respect for Civilians' Human Rights

NEW YORK, 7 April (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

On 5 and 6 April, a United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) team visited Ituri villages around Drodro to investigate reports of massacres in the area, allegedly committed by militias against civilians in the last weeks of March and early April. The team found 20 fresh mass graves and interviewed local leaders who reported that up to 960 people may have been killed, allegedly because they refused to support Lendu-based militia offensives.

As MONUC continues to investigate the incident, the Secretary-General is deeply disturbed by these reports and demands that all concerned unconditionally respect the basic human rights of innocent civilians. The reported massacres underscore the need for the local leaders to participate fully in the Ituri Pacification Committee, which has been established to find peaceful solutions in this troubled region.

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