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New Efforts to Maintain Calm in Congo

During a lull in the fighting between the ethnic militias, the U.N. personnel were given safe passage to allow them to relocate internal refugees from a crowded compound in the center of the city to a larger one near the airport.
TORONTO (NFTF.org) -- The few residents remaining in Bunia in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (Background Report) have just enjoyed the first relatively peaceful weekend in months. Following a truce negotiated last Friday between the main ethnic rivals and DRC president Joseph Kabila, sporadic skirmishes continued briefly but now appear to have stopped. As part of the efforts by the United Nations to maintain order, a small group of French military observers has arrived in the region in preparation for what is expected to be a deployment of peacekeepers under the U.N. banner. Local militia leaders have said that French troops will not be welcomed but there is increasing speculation that the European Union may be willing to send a joint force.

Most residents fled during the bloody battles of the past two weeks although some were unable to leave town and have flooded into two U.N. compounds. During a lull in the fighting between the ethnic militias, the U.N. personnel were given safe passage to allow them to relocate internal refugees from a crowded compound in the center of the city to a larger one near the airport. There are said to be about 9,000 people located there now and the U.N. is encouraging the people remaining in town to move to the airport as well.

Ominously, Lendu militia forces have peacefully re-entered Bunia over the weekend. Although there have been no problems so far, this is apparently in contravention of the truce reached last week.

Meanwhile, the U.N. has a 700-person observer mission in the northeast and they have retreated into Bunia for their own protection. Two of their soldiers were killed last week in what the U.N. calls "a savage attack."

YellowTimes.org correspondent Paul Harris drafted this report

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