June 18, 2013

Insecurity major concern in Congo copper province: UN

Insecurity in the copper-rich Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a “serious concern,” the outgoing head of the UN peacekeeping mission has said.

U.N. peacekeepers (background) in DRC
U.N peacekeepers (background) in DRC

“It’s a quite significant problem, and I think it has all the prospects of becoming worse,” Reuters quoted Roger Meece as saying on Monday.

Meece, who is the head of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, called for a political solution for the problem.

“One can do what is possible militarily and or with a police force but … the real solutions have to be found in these political factors,” he said.


On June 10, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed former German diplomat Martin Kobler to succeed Meece as his special envoy to DRC.

Meece completes his assignment in the African country in July.

Katanga province, in the southeast of the vast DRC, sits on some of the world’s largest copper reserves. The province exported 600,000 tons of copper last year.

Katanga is the native province of President Joseph Kabila and has long had a fractious relationship with the central government in Kinshasa. It tried to secede directly after DRC’s independence from Belgium in 1960.

In March, the Mai Mai Bakata-Katanga rebels attacked Katangese capital of Lubumbashi, marching through city streets and then fighting with the army close to the governor’s offices. The official casualty toll was 23 dead.

Congo has faced numerous problems over the past few decades, such as grinding poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and a war in the east of the country that has dragged on since 1998 and left over 5.5 million people dead.

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