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The BBC's Chris Simpson in Kampala
"The report calls on all parties involved in the conflict to stop fighting"
 real 28k

Friday, 15 December, 2000, 05:25 GMT
Rights group warns on DR Congo
Congolese rebels
RCD rebels are widely resented as agents of Rwanda, the report says
By Chris Simpson

A new human rights report on the Democratic Republic of Congo has warned of an increasingly desperate situation for the population living in the east of the country.

Congolese refugees
Thousands have died and about 1.5m displaced in the war
The report, by the London-based organisation, African Rights, provides detailed accounts of human rights abuses by a number of different armed groups in eastern Congo and calls on all parties involved in the fighting to honour their commitments to peace.

The United Nations is nominally committed to sending over 5,000 peacekeeping troops into the country to reinforce an observer mission there.

But with the conflict clearly escalating and little hint of any diplomatic breakthrough, the UN may well be reluctant to expand its presence.

Hunger and disease

The African Rights report concludes that life for most of the population living in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu is governed by hunger, disease and a reign of terror imposed by different armed groups.

The report calls on all parties involved in the conflict to stop fighting and urges the United Nations to take a more purposeful approach.

Laurent Kabila
The RCD wants to remove President Kabila
It says the UN needs to focus on the need for economic regeneration and social reconstruction in a region which is fast falling apart.

But African Rights also acknowledges that past appeals have been in vain and the war is simply too complicated and too entrenched for any easy resolution.

Resented

Much of eastern Congo is nominally held by the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), a rebel movement which is committed to the removal of Congolese President Laurent Kabila.

According to African Rights, the RCD is massively resented by much of the population.

This is partly because of its record of incompetence and poor leadership but mainly because it is seen as a front organisation for the Rwandan Government.

Rwanda has sent thousands of its troops across the border into Congo, supposedly to fight a war of self-defence against the Interahamwe militias and other forces implicated in the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

African Rights acknowledges the vicious role still being played by the Interahamwe and its allies, with the support of President Kabila.

But the organisation also warns that Rwanda's presence in Congo has proved hugely unpopular, contributing to a new climate of inter-ethnic antagonism.

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See also:

06 Dec 00 | Africa
DR Congo deal signed
23 Aug 00 | Africa
Kabila rejects Lusaka accord
30 Jun 00 | Africa
Timeline: DR Congo conflict
30 Jun 00 | Africa
Congo's unhappy birthday
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