The French and British foreign ministers have gone to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and called on the country’s president to implement existing peace accords to stop an upsurge of violence on the eastern border with Rwanda.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians have left their homes, fleeing fighting between Congolese rebels, the RDC’s regular troops and a UN peacekeeping force.
France’s Bernard Kouchner and Britain’s David Miliband met President Jospeh Kabila in the capital Kinshasa, before flying to Goma in the heart of the trouble-zone.
Kouchner said: “I intend to find out why there’s no peace in the area despite so many efforts by, firstly of course the Congolese, the international community, and Europe… and how no stabililty has been reached, how in camp after camp, hundreds of thousands of people are living in appalling conditions.”
Congo and Rwanda accuse each other of backing rebel groups involved in violence in the region.
Earlier this week, Congolese rebels halted their advance on Goma, saying they did not want to cause panic among the people there.
Although that truce appears to be holding, foreign relief workers have described conditions in the province as ‘catastrophic.’
Kouchner said the EU is ready to fly humanitarian aid to displaced civilians, but added the option of sending an EU military force needs further consideration.