Page last updated at 11:32 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 12:32 UK

Clinics 'looted' in Congo clashes

File photo of displaced Congolese
Civilians have repeatedly been displaced by violence in DR Congo

Health centres have been systematically looted during the recent fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN says.

"The looting has been carried out by all forces present there, without exception," said Nestor Yombo Djema from the UN's humanitarian aid office.

The army has been battling fighters loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda over the past three weeks.

The government is reported to have rejected calls for direct talks.

Some 60,000 people have fled their homes because of the latest fighting and the humanitarian situation is "very worrying" in North and South Kivu, according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).

"You can imagine the impact of such acts: the lack of medical care for those who need it and the unavailability of medication," said Ocha's Mr Djema.

FDLR- Rwandan Hutus, accused of 1994 genocide
CNDP - Gen Nkunda's Tutsi forces
On Wednesday, the government approved a UN plan for all sides to withdraw their forces ahead of moves to integrate the rebels into the army, the UN says.

The UN has some 17,000 peacekeepers in DR Congo and they have intervened in the recent fighting to try to keep the two sides apart.

But it is understood President Joseph Kabila refuses to talk to Gen Nkunda, calling him a terrorist.

Gen Nkunda signed a peace deal in January following fierce fighting last year.

But he has always refused to disarm while Rwandan Hutu rebels still operate in the area, as he accuses them of attacking his Tutsi community.

The Congolese army has promised to wipe out the Rwandan Hutu FDLR forces, with the backing of the 17,000 UN troops in the country.

But a recent report by Global Witness said the FDLR retained control of large areas and accused the army of collaborating with them to exploit the region's mineral wealth.

BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says eastern DR Congo is - once more - on the knife-edge between war and peace.

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