The Quickie

A bite-sized look at this week's news…

Congo Refugees Promised Help

Posted by sarahnics on November 2, 2008

Congolese refugees who have fled the fighting in eastern Congo have been promised help from the West, however the idea of the European Union sending troops in to protect civilians have not been mentioned.

Desperate people rushed from their homes to mob the French Foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and the British Foreign minister David Miliband at a camp in North Kivu Province, where a recent rebel offensive triggered a humanitarian crisis.

The ministers were on a trip to assess what kind of help the EU could give to Congo’s government, the UN peacekeepers and aid workers in order to cope with the thousands of starving people.

Humanitarian Assistance

France proposed the idea of the bloc, sending 1,500 troops to Congo to help the existing 17,000 UN peacekeepers in their mission to deliver humanitarian assistance.

However while both Mr Kouchner and Mr Miliaband said a humanitarian operation was in process, they indicated the option of and EU deployment, which has previously encountered resistance from other EU members, was only under review.

Mr Miliband told ITN news, “I don’ think we’re here to discuss and EU force. We’re here to discuss the humanitarian situation.”

The ministers who earlier met with the Congolese President Joseph Kabila travelled on to neighbouring Rwanda to lobby with President Paul Kagame’s government to support a lasting peace deal in North Kiva.

Congo and Rwanda have had problems in the past, each accusing the other of backing rival rebel groups.

“Catastrophic Situation”

The recent offensive attacks by Tustsi rebel forces loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda, and killings and looting by Congolese army troops have created what aid workers describe as a “catastrophic situation” in North Kivu.

However a ceasefire by Nkunda seems to be holding.

While Mr Miliband and Mr Kouchner said pledged more European aid, refugees say that what is really needed is more security.

“We really want to return home. Food is not the problem,” said refugee Emilie Manigera in Kibati to ITN news.

 

Sarah Nicholas (s.nicholas@my.westminster.ac.uk)

For the background article click here: https://therealquickie.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/congo-crisis-background/

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