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    AU Demands Humanitarian Access in Congo

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    The African Union is demanding that aid groups receive access to the conflict zone in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it is considering the deployment of international forces to the region. The AU Peace and Security Council held an emergency meeting on Monday.
     
    The African Union Peace and Security Council convened an emergency meeting to reaffirm its rejection of the armed rebellion in the DRC that has created a humanitarian crisis in the region.

    AU Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra says the organization is deeply concerned about the situation.
     
    “[The] council urges that all stakeholders ensure unhindered humanitarian access and guarantee the security and safety of the staff of the humanitarian agencies and organizations who are operating under very challenging conditions," said Lamamra.
     
    Since the uprisings of the M23 rebels and their capture of the city of Goma last week, thousands of people have fled the fighting between the rebels and the government.
     
    The African Union is considering deploying an international force from Tanzania to oversee the withdrawal of M23.  But AU Commissioner Lamamra says that for now, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC, or MONUSCO, will monitor the withdrawal.

    “MONUSCO is requested to ensure the security in that area pending the deployment of units from the international neutral force," he said.
     
    The Peace and Security Council is calling on all parties to prevent further escalation of the conflict.  Commissioner Lamamra says the DRC government has accepted the African Union's request to discuss M23's concerns.

    “It is within the next two weeks that the government of the DRC will be conducting the exercise, which was described here in terms of listening, evaluating and resolving the grievances or addressing M23's grievances," said Lamamra.

    The Peace and Security Council did not outline what the consequences might be if the DRC government fails to address M23's grievances.
     
    The AU Peace and Security Council further endorsed the recently drafted declaration of the International Council of the Great Lakes Region and requested its immediate implementation.  The declaration urges M23 to withdraw immediately from all occupied areas.

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