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November 2, 2008

Democratic Republic of Congo - We must not allow Congo to become another Rwanda.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has warned that the world must not allow a repeat of the Rwandan genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The current conflict in the DRC has its roots in the genocide 14 years ago in neighboring Rwanda.  At that time, more than a million people were killed when Hutu extremists turned on their Tutsi neighbors. In the last three weeks, a ceasefire brokered by the UN disintegrated in an explosion  of violence that has caused as many as 300,000 thousand people to flee their homes.  Rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda has said he returned to battle in order to protect his Tutsi community from Rwandan Hutus (who fled to DRC after carrying out the genocide of 1994.)

But after DRC government troops fled –on the outskirts of the regional capital Goma, rebel troops are accused of  murder, rape and looting.

The Rwandans have been accused of supporting rebel leader Nkunda - a claim they deny . The rebels accuse the Congolese government of backing the Hutu militias.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband, in a joint statement with with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, said the Congolese government needs to take "proper command" of its forces.  The politicians, who traveled to DRC to try to help find a diplomatic solution to the renewed conflict between rebel and government forces, added: "There is no excuse for turning away."

The envoys said the current ceasefire must be bolstered and routes must be secured for the delivery of aid.  "The international community must support humanitarian delivery, strengthen the United Nations force, and help promote and enforce agreements."
At the same time, they added that the Rwandan government needed to take "active steps" to help end the crisis.

Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown has already disclosed that contingency plans were being drawn up for the deployment of a European Union force - including UK troops - to support the UN.

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