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Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Thousands displaced in Congo
At least 50,000 people have been displaced in Congo Brazzaville since fighting broke out between government forces and the so-called "Ninja" rebels in the Pool region, the United Nations says.

The UN head in Congo, William Paton, who visited the region on Tuesday, told the BBC that 20,000 displaced people have reached the capital and other safe towns, but that the majority are still in the forest, and in need of aid.


Malnutrition, lots of rapes, no latrine, no medical care

William Paton
United Nations
Eye-witnesses reaching Brazzaville have told aid workers that many people have been killed or injured by both sides in the conflict, and houses destroyed.

This is the first time since the clashes began in March that the Congolese authorities have allowed an aid mission into the troubled region.

Earlier this week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson urged the Congolese authorities to grant aid agencies free access to those in need of assistance in the Pool.

Humanitarian evaluation

The delegation of UN and aid workers visited the town of Kindamba, in central Pool, which has been besieged by "Ninja" fighters.

"We were able to fly in there for just a couple of hours to do a humanitarian evaluation mission," Mr Paton said.

"We found that 2,000 people remain in Kindamba out of the 16,000 who were there two months ago. The other 14,000 thousand have fled, mainly into nearby forests," he added.

President Denis Sassou-Nguesso
Sassou's power will be reinforced by the election

"The 2,000 that remain are in a single site in the centre of the city, not in very good condition: some signs of malnutrition, lots of rapes, no latrine, no medical care."

Meanwhile, President Denis Sassou Nguesso's party looks set for a large majority in parliament.

"With more than half the first round results, we can say that supporters of President Sassou Nguesso... will win a comfortable majority in the new national assembly," electoral commission spokesman Charles Zacharie Bowao told the French news agency AFP.

He said that the turnout in Sunday's poll had been between 60 and 65% across the country.

The election to set up a new parliament after a period of post-war transitional rule was marred by violence and attempted fraud, and voting did not take place in some parts of the Pool.

In nine constituencies in Brazzaville and the second city, Pointe Noire, the election had to be re-run on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Despite the fighting in the Pool, a second round of voting is scheduled to take place on 23 June, along with municipal elections.

See also:

28 May 02 | Africa
27 May 02 | Africa
16 May 02 | Africa
10 Apr 02 | Africa
02 Apr 02 | Africa
12 Mar 02 | Africa
10 Mar 02 | Africa
10 Mar 02 | Africa
22 Feb 02 | Africa
27 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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