In the largest such joint action to date, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will support military operations by the national Congolese army to protect the Walungu area in the eastern part of the country from rebel attacks. A combined operational centre will be set up in Walungu, 80 kilometres southwest of Bukavu in South Kivu province, the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) has announced. According to a joint communiqué by MONUC and the Congolese armed forces, all combatants are urged to voluntarily cease their activities and either join the national army or sign up for the demobilization and reintegration program. In addition, all foreign forces in the area are asked to go home. On a visit to a hospital Walungu in June, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director Felix Bamezon reported seeing wards filled with emaciated babies and young children with distended stomachs, stick-like limbs and hair that had turned yellow. “These children are slowly dying of starvation,” he said then. “We cannot simply stand by and let it happen.”

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