Global perspective Human stories

DR Congo: UN-backed peace summit extended

DR Congo: UN-backed peace summit extended

The United Nations-backed conference seeking to bringing peace, security and development to the war-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), scheduled to end today, has been extended.

UN spokesperson Michele Montas said at a press briefing in New York that the Conference on Peace, Security and Development taking place in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, will now end its formal consultations tomorrow or on Wednesday.

According to the UN mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym MONUC, attendees are expected to adopt a final report documenting the consensus positions on issues discussed during the Goma talks, which commenced on 7 January.

In recent months, fighting has escalated between Government troops and rebels allied with dissident General Laurent Nkunda, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

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.

Last week, delegates to the summit discussed the possibility of amnesty for certain belligerents, including General Nkunda.

Participants also considered the integration of Nkunda fighters into the brassage process, whereby ex-combatants from armed groups are retrained to form part of the national armed forces of the DRC (FARDC), as well as the need to respond to refugee concerns.

Meanwhile, MONUC is appealing to members of the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front to surrender to FARDC, whose troops are now removing the insurgents from their hideouts in the towns of Kamatsy and Tchei in the east of the DRC.

Recently, two days of violent clashes in Bunia, the capital of Ituri Province, between Government troops and the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front members left two soldiers dead and another two wounded, while seven militiamen were captured.