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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
UN slams DR Congo 'hate radio'
UN soldiers
France has requested a UN peace force for DR Congo
Ethnic militias in the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo town of Bunia are broadcasting hate messages that threaten civilians, the United Nations has said.

Candip Radio aired a statement by an ethnic Hema militia group, warning that it would use force to dislodge civilians who had sought refuge at the base of the UN mission in DR Congo (Monuc) in Bunia.

Such messages could incite hatred and rekindle memories of Radio Mille Collines which fanned the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, according to a Monuc statement.

More than 400 people have been killed in Bunia and much of the population has fled the north-eastern town since fighting erupted between two rival ethnic militias.

France has tabled a draft resolution with the UN Security Council to send more than 1,000 troops to the town of Bunia.

The troops would be charged with protecting civilians and a Security Council vote on the resolution could be held as early as Friday.

Violation

In a letter to the chief of staff of the Hema Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), Monuc condemns the UPC threat against displaced civilians.

"It is a flagrant violation of the UN Security Council's resolutions mandating Monuc to protect civilian populations faced with imminent threats".

Monuc says it has encouraged the displaced civilians of Bunia to return home if they considered that security conditions permitted.

"The return shall, however, be done on a voluntary basis in accordance with international humanitarian law".

Some 50,000 people have fled the fighting in recent days, Monuc says.

The clashes between rival Hema and Lendu groups followed the withdrawal of Ugandan forces from the area.


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