What should the world do to help Congo?
Another bout of bloody clashes between Congolese Tutsi rebels and government forces, accompanied by vicious looting has sent the hapless civilians of eastern Congo’s North Kivu province once again running for their lives. Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting, bringing to nearly 1 million the number of people displaced by fighting in North Kivu alone since Congo’s first ever democratic elections two years ago.
The fighting on the border between Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda has triggered the usual round of recriminations between the two countries’ governments. Foreign envoys are jetting back and forth between Kinshasa and Kigali. The United Nations and European Union are both considering sending in extra troops to help the U.N. peacekeeping force, already the world’s biggest at 17,000-strong.
But nobody seems really sure how to stop the violence, end the misery and secure lasting peace for the people of North Kivu.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband are due to meet Congolese President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa today (Saturday) and travel to the eastern city of Goma, threatened by an offensive by Tutsi rebels this week.
What can be done to end eastern Congo’s vicious circle of violence? Who, if anyone, holds the key to regional peace in Africa’s Great Lakes? And should the United Nations, or the European Union, send more troops to stop the fighting and help stem the humanitarian disaster?