EU to consider DR Congo aid mission
The European Union will discuss sending a humanitarian aid mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as reinforcing UN peacekeepers there, Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister has said.
In Brussels on Friday the 27 EU countries will consider "rapidly setting up a humanitarian logistics mission" to help people in the eastern area of the country, the minister said in a statement.
An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced by fighting between government troops and soldiers loyal to Laurent Nkunda, a renegade General who says he is fighting to protect ethnic Tutsis and to oust the government, reported Aljazeera.
Intense clashes in recent days and an advance by Nkunda's troops have lead to a humanitarian crisis with displaced people going without food and shelter.
Both the EU and the UN have been criticised for their slow and inadequate response.
EU countries will also consider how the United Nations peacekeeping mission, which at 17,000 troops is the UN's largest, could be reinforced, the statement said.
Nkunda's men had swept to the outskirts of a strategic crossroads town of Kanyabayonga in eastern North Kivu province by Thursday where hundreds of government troops and UN peacekeepers are stationed.
They have also surrounded North Kivu's capital, Goma, eastern DR Congo's main city, for the past two weeks, forcing UN peacekeepers to send reinforcements to protect the city and its estimated 500,000-strong civilian population.
Juliette Prodhan, head of Oxfam in the DR Congo, said countries need to exert greater effort in sending more support to the peacekeepers.
"It is clear that hundreds of thousands of people in eastern Congo are not getting the protection they desperately need... People have told us that they feel like they are the living dead and that their lives no longer have any value.
"The world needs to show them that that is not true, by redoubling their efforts to secure a ceasefire and by providing immediate additional support to the UN peacekeepers," she said.