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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 20:15 GMT 21:15 UK
Disease fear in DR Congo town
Beseiged Monuc (UN) compound in Bunia
Oxfam says it is working to restore water supplies in the
A United Nations aid official has warned of a possible outbreak of cholera in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Bunia following eights days of ethnic fighting.

Nacee Oku Bright told the BBC Network Africa programme that there was "absolutely no water" in the town for the thousands of people who have sought refuge from the fighting at the United Nations compound.

Many thousands of others have walked for up to six days to neighbouring Uganda and talk of many deaths and widespread human rights abuses in the area.

Aid workers from the agency Oxfam who have flown over Bunia say there is massive column of between 30,000 and 60,000 people on a road leading south, towards the town of Beni, 161km away.

Oxfam says it has two water engineers in Bunia and is sending taps and water pipes in a bid to restore water supplies.

Africa is neglected by the UN and the world, no one cares
Nollascus Ganda, Kenyan in Russia

DR Congo President Joseph Kabila met representatives of the ethnic Hema and Lendu militias in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam on Thursday in an attempt to end the bloodshed.

Speaking to the BBC's Focus on Africa, Mr Kabila said he was looking for a complete cessation of military activities in the region.

He said the situation in Bunia was now so dire, he believed the international community might be forced to impose peace there if the fighting continued.

The fighting escalated following the pull-out of the thousands of Ugandan troops from the town and senior Ugandan military officials are also at the talks in Dar es Salaam.

Mortar

The UN has set up a temporary clinic across the road from the UN compound in Bunia to cater for all the people injured in the fighting, Ms Oku Bright said.

"We're trying to cope... we're trying to bring in more doctors," said the head of the humanitarian affairs with the UN mission in DR Congo (Monuc).

Ugandan tank
The fighting followed the Ugandan pull-out

She says there is also no electricity in the town.

On Wednesday, a mortar fell among those sheltering near the UN compound, killing 10 and injuring up to 50, she said.

Aid agency Many of those fleeing Bunia have strongly criticised the UN for failing to protect the civilian population, says the BBC's Will Ross in western Uganda.

Some 700 UN peacekeepers are in Bunia and the UN Security Council is considering whether to send more troops, with a tougher mandate to enforce peace.

France has offered to send up to 1,000 troops, while the United Kingdom is considering whether to follow suit.

Deserted villages

Ethnic Hema refugees have accused rival Lendu militias of tearing out and eating the hearts of their Hema victims.

They also say that many villages in the Ituri district around Bunia are now completely deserted following attacks by Lendu militias.

DR CONGO'S WAR
Four years
Seven foreign armies
At least 2 million dead
Disease and abuses widespread

Most of the city's population of 300,000 has fled the fighting.

Some officials have likened recent killings and racial tensions in the area to the start of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Carla del Ponte, chief UN war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, said the killing in Ituri bordered on genocide.

The Kinshasa government sent 600 special police to Bunia when the Ugandan army started its pullout, but only 100 remain. The rest have all fled.

The Hemas and Lendus have long clashed over land and other resources and their dispute has been fuelled by the presence of Ugandan and Rwandan troops in DR Congo, during the country's almost five year war.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Nacee Oku Bright on BBC Network Africa
"We're trying to cope"



SEE ALSO:
Uganda plans looting charges
15 May 03  |  Business
Unease in volatile DR Congo town
02 May 03  |  Africa
DR Congo town 'volatile'
09 May 03  |  Africa
Fighting in DR Congo town
11 Apr 03  |  Africa


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