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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Civil War in the East covering International Conflict Diamond Activity in the West?

I have not commented in detail to date about DR Congo's current Civil war, because it is not clear to me yet the real objectives of the war. The government does not seem to have any real solutions except the status-quo. The rebels seem to not have any real idea about what they want to do or accomplish.

So the usually suspects are likely to be supplying the arms and logistics to both sides.

-I suspect the real story in the Congos is what is going on in the diamond mines...

  • Who is mining, them?
  • where are they going to get "Kimberly-ized"?
  • Are they just being sold to an emerging non-DeBeers diamond trade being run by the Russians?
I suspect the conflict is really covering other activities meant to arm and resupply other international groups for upcoming conflicts....

so, back to the Civil War....

-Shimron

BULENGO, Congo, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Civilians in Congo's conflict-torn North Kivu province are bearing the brunt of instability there as warring factions step up forced recruitment and a humanitarian crisis deepens.

Jean-Paul Kakuti was attending his village school when he was kidnapped by fighters loyal to renegade Tutsi General Laurent Nkunda, who are battling Democratic Republic of Congo's army in the lawless eastern province.

"When they took me, I was with about 30 others. They took lots of school children and teachers," Kakuti said as he waited in a U.N. refugee agency tent in Bulengo, just west of the provincial capital, Goma. "They wanted us to fight alongside them, to become rebels like them."

A tense stalemate reigns in North Kivu after an informal U.N.-brokered ceasefire helped end heavy fighting last month. Intermittent skirmishes continue between Nkunda's fighters, government forces, local militia, and Rwandan rebels.

With no concrete efforts under way to negotiate a settlement to the current situation, North Kivu's civilian population is suffering an intensifying humanitarian crisis.

More than 90,000 people were displaced by last month's fighting and there are worrying signs the situation could soon worsen.

The Congolese army, considered by human rights groups as the country's worst human rights abuser, has poured thousands of extra troops into the province to battle Nkunda.

Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission accuses Nkunda, local militia, and Rwandan Hutu FDLR rebels of forcibly recruiting fighters, in some cases minors. The indications point towards preparations for the next round of fighting.

"It's really an explosive situation that can change overnight," said Philippe Havet, a doctor at a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in the isolated town of Masisi. "We don't know what will happen tomorrow. That much is completely clear."

HUMANITARIAN WOES

Even before the latest round of fighting, more than 270,000 civilians had fled fighting in North Kivu since the beginning of the year. Few dare return home, causing camps to balloon and placing a strain on local communities that have welcomed them.

Uncounted thousands more have been cut off from assistance, as transport routes have been transformed into frontlines.

"Access to people has become a real challenge. North Kivu is divided," said Aya Shneerson, the U.N. World Food Programme's director in North Kivu. "No one is going home, because the situation is unclear. There are places where people urgently need help that we can't get to."

At the hospital in Masisi, one of the few operating in the area, a team from the Belgian chapter of MSF carries out an average of 1,000 consultations per week. The 73-bed facility currently houses 130 patients and medical supplies must be flown in by helicopter to avoid ambushes on the road from Goma.

"They come walking sometimes from 20 km (12 miles) away," Havet told Reuters by phone from Masisi. "There are some who have to wait two days to be treated."

Congo's U.N. peacekeeping mission has been pushing for negotiations to end the crisis and former colonial ruler Belgium is calling for the appointment of a special outside mediator for North Kivu.

"It's clear that a political solution is needed, and quickly. The humanitarian consequences of drawn-out instability in North Kivu are pretty dire, maybe a million displaced by the end of the year," said one western diplomat.
"There seems to be a lack of political will from both sides to have meaningful talks.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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