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MONUC denies flight restrictions

The UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) on Wednesday denied reports that its military observer flights had been grounded by the authorities in Kinshasa this week. Last week MONUC denied the DRC permission to conduct a security inspection of an aircraft, and some reports said flights had been stopped as a result. The mission had lost one flight that day, but flights had continued as normal since then, except some cancelled due to weather conditions, a MONUC official told IRIN. While there continued to be misunderstandings and “bureaucratic friction” between the UN mission and Kinshasa, things were going reasonably well at the moment, and the pace of work was really hotting up in preparation for the Phase 2 deployment approved by the UN Security Council last Thursday, the official added. The mission was currently preparing to receive the “initial enablers” - logisticians and communications staff, along with their security cover - for the new deployment. Several hundred more UN personnel were expected to deploy in four main bases - Mbandaka, Kisangani, Kindu and Mbuji-Mayi - in the next 40 to 60 days.

That deployment would see a whole new profile for MONUC, with UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet - expected in the DRC in the next week or so - likely to adopt a more robust attitude and lay down stricter ground rules on freedom of movement and security clearances for personnel, a UN official stated. For instance, MONUC had still not secured DRC government clearance to deploy in Mbandaka, and one point of Miyet’s visit would be to secure its freedom to do so, he added. At the moment, the mission was asking permission for each deployment, flight and field mission but a substantially bigger MONUC operation would not be able or willing to work within the current system, which was overly restrictive and bureaucratic, he said.

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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