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Relatives of air crash victims give France payment deadline

Relatives of the 49 Congolese victims of a French jetliner crash in Niger on 19 September 1989 demanded on Friday that the French government pay them compensation in full by 31 March.

In a declaration issued on Friday in Brazzaville, capital of the Republic of Congo (ROC), the association said: "The association of the victims' families in Brazzaville disapprove of a partial compensation, as was suggested under the pretext of an urgent compensation, and demands that all families will be fully compensated before 31 March 2005."

The UTA DC-10 jetliner crashed in Niger's Tenere Desert en route from Brazzaville to Paris, killing 170 passengers, 49 of them nationals of the ROC. The cause of the accident was suspected to be a bomb.

Years later, the Libyan government accepted involvement in the disaster and promised to compensate each family of the victims US $1 million. By July 2004, the Libyan government had remitted the full amount of $170 million to the French government. The families now demand the immediate release of these funds no later than end of March.

"If nothing is done until then, we will call on the French government, and in particular, on President [Jacques] Chirac and the ministers of foreign affairs and human rights for their solidarity in our cause," Norbert Dabira, representing the Brazzaville association, said in Friday's declaration.

The French and Congolese families of people who died in the crash formed a joint foundation two months ago, based in France, to administer the Libyan compensation.

However, in its declaration on Friday, the Congolese association said it had never been consulted in any decisions over compensation.

"The foundation has never made official contact, since it was inaugurated, with the Association of the Relatives of Victims of Brazzaville," it said.

"The Association of the Relatives of the Victims of Brazzaville has the impression that it has been brushed aside," the association added.

Regardless of nationality, none of the victims' families have received any compensation as of yet.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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