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The BBC's correspondent Jane Standley reports:
"Richard Holbrooke's warning could not have been more blunt"
 real 28k

Monday, 6 December, 1999, 15:58 GMT
US issues stark DR Congo warning
Holbrooke and Mandela Ambassador Holbrooke: January will be the "month of Africa"


US envoy Richard Holbrooke has warned the whole future of Africa could be damaged and peacemaking around the world threatened if the peace accord in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not observed.

Battle for the heart of Africa
"We cannot afford to repeat the failed peacekeeping efforts of earlier in this decade, catastrophes like the U.N.'s performance in Bosnia and Somalia, and our inaction in Rwanda," the American Ambassador to the United Nations told a meeting in South Africa on Monday.

Mr Holbrooke said that the international community would not intervene in DR Congo unless all sides stop the renewed fighting and stick to the peace agreement they signed in Lusaka last August.


The renewed fighting in the Congo threatens to leave the Lusaka agreement in tatters
Richard Holbrooke
"If the parties in the Congo truly want the international community's involvement and support, such violations of these commitments are simply unacceptabe" he said.

How DR Congo deals with current developments will determine the role of the UN there.

Mr Holbrooke said he would not support the planned deployment of 500 UN military observers for a possible peace mission until all sides agreed to a special mediator to revitalise the Lusaka agreement.

refugees Thousands of Congolese have been displaced by the fighting
He warned also that Nato forces would not be available to impose any peace settlement in the region, but said that the UN Security Council would concentrate on the Congo conflict when the US assumes the rotating presidency of the Council in January.

As part of his 10-nation African tour, Mr Holbrooke travels on to Zimbabwe, Uganda and Rwanda.

Trapped in the jungle

His blunt warning comes as the United Nations food agency announces that the fighting between rebels and President Kabila's troops has forced thousands of Congolese civilians to flee into the jungle.

Entire populations of villages are trapped in the jungle where they are sick and undernourished, but too frightened to seek humanitarian aid, say the World Food Programme (WFP).


People are traumatised, visibly malnourished and in need of basic medical assistance
WFP
The WFP said their assessment of six remote locations in DR Congo only covered a "fraction" of the displaced people.

"We've heard from others that many people are hiding in densely-forested areas behind the frontlines, too frightened to make the journey to urban centres" Kees Tuinenberg, the programme director, said in a statement.

An estimated 800,000 people are thought to have been displaced by the fighting since August 1998.

The WFP says it has only received a third of the $30m it appealed for in June to help the refugees.
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See also:
16 Nov 99 |  Africa
OAU monitors enter DR Congo
11 Nov 99 |  Africa
UN team starts work in Congo
08 Jul 99 |  Africa
Congo peace plan: the main points
25 Nov 99 |  Africa
Zimbabwe losses add up in Congo
03 Sep 99 |  Africa
Rwanda hails Congo victory
02 Oct 99 |  Africa
Congo accused of breaking truce
23 Jun 99 |  Africa
DR Congo: What price peace?
03 Dec 99 |  Africa
Congo rebels lose northern town

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