Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced hope that an upcoming peace summit to be held in the troubled eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will help end a conflict that has caused tremendous suffering and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban welcomed the initiative taken by the Government of the DRC and the people of North and South Kivu provinces to hold a conference aimed at bringing peace, security and development to the region. The talks are scheduled to start on 6 January 2008 in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Mr. Ban believes the conference has the potential to make “important steps towards ending the suffering of the population and establishing a global plan for security, stability and progress in these provinces.”
Fighting has escalated in recent months between Government troops and rebels allied with the dissident army general, Laurent Nkunda, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes in North Kivu.
The UN refugee agency estimates that over the last year, a mix of conflict, military build-up and spiralling lawlessness has displaced 400,000 people in North Kivu – the worst displacement since the end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are an estimated 800,000 displaced people in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.
“The people of North and South Kivu deserve a resolution to the conflicts which have caused so much suffering and massive displacement of the population, and which threaten peace and stability in the region,” the statement said.
The Secretary-General urged all concerned “to seize this opportunity to initiate and sustain a dialogue aimed at peacefully addressing the many challenges facing the Kivus” and called on the country’s international partners to support these efforts.