As African leaders and UN delegates met in Nairobi, renewed fighting prompted another exodus of refugees and a warning from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that the crisis could spread to the broader sub-region.
KIBATI - Fighting between rebels and the army caused a fresh refugee exodus in east
The renewed combat near Kibati in Democratic Republic of
"There should be an immediate ceasefire by all the armed men and militia in
The leaders from the
Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who have accused each other of 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 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
Fighting between Nkunda's Tutsi rebels and
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
CIVILIANS STREAM SOUTH
As the United Nations and African leaders were meeting, Nkunda's battle-hardened fighters and government troops exchanged machinegun, mortar and rocket-propelled grenade fire from green hills in sight of
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 towards the North Kivu provincial capital Goma, 7 km (4 miles) to the south.
The United Nations has its largest peacekeeping force in the world, 17,000-strong, deployed in the vast country whose eastern conflict is fuelled by ethnic tension stemming from the 1994 genocide in neighbouring
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 violence seen in the world.
Humanitarian agencies are clamouring for more protection for
"The world cannot look away again as thousands suffer in eastern
Edmond Mulet, U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said the Security Council should act urgently on a request from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for 3,000 additional peacekeepers to help prevent full-scale war.
The 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.
RWANDAN HUTU REBELS
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 says his revolt is a legitimate one to protect ethnic Tutsis in
"It's only a regional summit. It doesn't have any impact on our demands," Nkunda said by telephone from east
The region is rich in minerals, such as coltan which is used in mobile phones, making control of the remote terrain, far from
U.N. relief agencies, which run the Kibati refugee camp, said Friday's fighting had interrupted the distribution of aid and caused panic among camp residents.
The number of people displaced by fighting in
"The humanitarian situation is deteriorating," Elisabeth Byrs of the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said.
Date created : 2008-11-08