18 January 2008 Delegates at the United Nations-backed conference aimed at bringing peace, security and development to the strife-torn eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have discussed the possibility of amnesty for certain belligerents, including dissident General Laurent Nkunda.
The summit is taking place in Goma, the capital of North Kivu, where fighting has escalated in recent months between Government troops and rebels allied with Nkunda, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes.
Participants also discussed the integration of Nkunda fighters into the brassage process, whereby ex-combatants from armed groups are retrained to form part of the national armed forces of the DRC (FARDC), as well as the need to respond to refugee concerns.
The UN refugee agency estimates that over the last year, a mix of conflict, military build-up and spiralling lawlessness has displaced 400,000 people in North Kivu – the worst displacement since the end of the civil war in 2003. In total, there are an estimated 800,000 displaced people in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.
The conference is scheduled to conclude on 21 January.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, reports that two days of violent clashes in Bunia between Government troops and the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front militia has left two soldiers dead and another two wounded, while seven militiamen were captured.
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