Coming up

Don't miss




Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more


Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more


Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more


The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more


The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more


Halal tourism on the rise

Read more


Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more


WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more


When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Hamas opens fire on Israel despite offer to extend humanitarian truce

    Read more

  • Photos: Youths clash with police at banned Gaza protest in Paris

    Read more

  • Bodies of all Air Algérie crash victims to be brought to France

    Read more

  • Germany's Tony Martin wins 20th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Kidnapped Briton freed after five months' detention in Yemen

    Read more

  • US evacuates embassy in Libya amid militia clashes

    Read more

  • Kerry in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • Nibali rides serenely toward a place in Tour history

    Read more

  • Video: 'Lack of security' at MH17 crash site, FRANCE 24 reports

    Read more

  • In pictures: Devastation, debris at Air Algérie crash site

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

African leaders and UN call for ceasefire

Video by Arnaud ZAJTMAN , Marlène RABAUD


Latest update : 2008-11-07

African leaders and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a ceasefire in RD Congo as fighting continued to rage between tutsi militias and the Congolese army in the country's eastern region of North Kivu.


Read our special report on the conflict in North Kivu


Read our report about the world leaders convening to find a peaceful solution





KIBATI - Fighting between rebels and the army caused a fresh refugee exodus in east Congo on Friday, and African leaders called for an immediate ceasefire to end a conflict the U.N. said could engulf the Great Lakes region.

The renewed combat near Kibati in Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province sent thousands of civilians fleeing in panic from a nearby refugee camp, adding urgency to a regional peace summit held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

"There should be an immediate ceasefire by all the armed men and militia in North Kivu," said Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula, reading a communique agreed by seven African leaders who met U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Nairobi.

The leaders from the Great Lakes region, including the presidents of Congo and Rwanda, said they would be willing to send peacekeeping troops to east Congo if required.

Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who have traded accusations about supporting rival rebel groups, held a brief one-on-one meeting during the summit.

Ban, who said he had come to the region with a "very heavy heart" but was encouraged by the summit, urged Kabila and Kagame to continue their dialogue.

African Union Chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the newly nominated U.N. special envoy for east Congo, would try to talk to the warring parties on the ground, including the Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.

Fighting between Nkunda's Tutsi rebels and Congo's army has spread along the hilly border with Rwanda, uprooting hundreds of thousands of people and creating a humanitarian crisis.

The African leaders called for a humanitarian corridor to be set up to channel aid to help refugees.

"This crisis could engulf the broader sub-region," Ban told the Nairobi summit, adding that only a lasting political settlement, rather than military moves alone, could solve it.

As the United Nations and African leaders were meeting, Nkunda's battle-hardened fighters and government troops exchanged machine-gun, mortar and rocket-propelled grenade fire from green hills in sight of North Kivu's Nyiragongo volcano.

As the sound of combat echoed around the slopes, civilians carrying infants, bundles, pots and even domestic animals streamed south away from the camp at Kibati on the road towards North Kivu provincial capital Goma, 7 km (4 miles) to the south.

The U.N. has its largest peacekeeping force in the world, 17,000-strong, deployed in the vast, mineral-rich but racially divided Congo, whose eastern conflict is fuelled by ethnic tensions stemming from the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.

"World cannot look away"

But U.N. troops are thinly stretched across a state the size of Western Europe where marauding armed groups have roamed for years, killing, looting and raping and recruiting child soldiers in some of the worst levels of violence seen in the world.

A Uruguayan U.N. commander at Kibati said some of the troops reinforcing the Congolese government lines were Angolans.

Angola, which intervened in Congo's earlier 1998-2003 war, is a staunch ally of Kabila but said on Friday it would not interfere directly so as to avert worsening the crisis.

"I have no information about the Angolan forces participating," U.N. chief Ban said.

Humanitarian agencies are clamouring for more protection for Congo's civilians and a group of them appealed to the U.N., Africa and Europe to strengthen the U.N. force with more troops.

"The world cannot look away again as thousands suffer in eastern Congo," said Juliette Prodhan, head of Oxfam in Congo. "We have had fine words and important meetings ... we need more urgency, action and commitment," she said.

The recent upsurge in fighting between Nkunda's rebels and army troops backed by militia allies has raised fears of a rerun of a wider 1998-2003 war in the former Belgian colony.

A key issue African leaders need to resolve for a lasting solution is the presence in east Congo of Rwandan Hutu rebels, known as the FDLR, who took part in the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

Previous agreements to halt the fighting have failed to produce results on the ground.

Nkunda justifies his revolt as a legitimate one to protect ethnic Tutsis in Congo from the Hutu rebels. He told Reuters on Friday the summit would have no influence on him unless the leaders convinced Congo's Kabila to have talks.

"It's only a regional summit. It doesn't have any impact on our demands," Nkunda said by telephone from east Congo.

The region is rich in minerals, such as coltan, which is used in mobile phones, making control of the remote terrain, far from Congo's capital Kinshasa, lucrative.

United Nations relief agencies, which run the Kibati refugee camp, said Friday's fighting had interrupted the distribution of aid and caused panic among the camp population.

Rwanda denies supporting Nkunda and accuses Congo's army of backing the Hutu rebels in the east.

The number of people displaced by fighting in North Kivu since September is now estimated at 250,000, the U.N. said. This was in addition to 800,000 who had fled previous hostilities.

"The humanitarian situation is deteriorating," Elisabeth Byrs of U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said.

Date created : 2008-11-07