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Congo 'massacre' on scale rarely seen, says Kouchner

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-10-31

The French foreign minister made the remarks as he and his British counterpart prepared to leave for the DR Congo and Rwanda on Friday to assess what their governments called an impending humanitarian crisis.

The Democratic Republic of Congo's east is the scene of a "massacre" on a scale rarely seen in Africa, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Friday before leaving for the strife-torn region.
   
"This is a massacre such as Africa has probably never seen, which is taking place virtually before our eyes, with more than a million refugees, with very targeted attacks, with sexual mutilations which are a basic fact of warfare in the area," Kouchner told French radio Europe 1.
   
"It is out of the question that we let this happen."
   
Kouchner was speaking shortly before he and his British counterpart David Miliband left for Congo where a new bout of fighting has been centred around the eastern city of Goma.
   
A five-year conflict pitting government forces, supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda, ended in 2003 after claiming more than 300,000 lives in armed violence, and three million through disease and famine.
   
Some 220,000 people have been forced from their homes in the latest fighting, bringing to more than a million the total number of displaced in the east of the country.
   
Kouchner and Miliband head Friday to the Congolese capital Kinshasa and the besieged city of Goma, before continuing to Rwanda to press for a diplomatic solution to the fighting.

Date created : 2008-10-31

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