United Nations-backed talks between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and a main rebel militia kicked off Tuesday, in a bid to end the upsurge in the fighting which has uprooted an additional 250,000 people in country's far east.
The event, being held at the UN's headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, is being facilitated by Olusegun Obasanjo, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy and former Nigerian President, and Benjamin Mkapa, former Tanzanian leader who is representing the African Union (AU) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). "In their opening remarks to the talks, the two envoys urged participants to find a workable solution to the political and humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC," UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters in New York, adding that the gathering is expected to continue tomorrow. Escalating conflict between Government forces (FARDC) and the National Congress in Defense of the People (CNDP), led by renegade general Laurent Nkunda, has uprooted an estimated 250,000 people since late August, mainly in North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda and Uganda. Other armed groups, including the Mayi Mayi, have also been involved in deadly clashes, some of which have been along ethnic lines. In a related development, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today reported that the transfer of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Kibati, on the northern outskirts of North Kivu's capital Goma, to more secure camps is continuing. But some 9,000 people are estimated to have recently fled to Kibati, and there have been reports of lootings in several villages in the past week. OCHA said that five former IDP camps in Rutshuru, 80 kilometres north of Goma, were forcibly emptied and destroyed, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has put the total number of displaced in North Kivu who cannot be provided shelter due to lack of means at more than 50,000.