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Peacekeepers helpless as fresh violence rocks DR Congo

Peacekeepers helpless as fresh violence rocks DR Congo
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More Congolese civilians have been fleeing refugee camps after a fresh bout of violence between government and rebel forces.

With machine-gun and mortar fire echoing around the mountains of North Kivu province, panicked families ran for cover. Thousands headed for the provincial capital Goma under the eyes UN peacekeepers who are powerless to intervene.

With 17,000 blue beret troops it is the world’s largest peacekeeping force but they are spread across a country the size of western Europe. Meanwhile on Friday African leaders meeting in Nairobi called for an immediate ceasefire.

Kenya’s Foreign Minister said the Great Lakes region would not stand by and witness violence by armed groups against civilians. He added that the region would, if necessary, send peacemaking troops into the DR Congo.

Such forces would respond more forcefully than the peacekeepers currently on the ground who have been accused of failing to stop the killing and other human rights abuses against civilians.