UK Government action on Congo welcomed

Christian Aid has welcomed the efforts of the UK Government to bring an end to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Government is engaging with the Congolese, Rwandan and Ugandan governments to restore peace and stability following the takeover of Goma by M23 rebels.

Heavy fighting between the rebels and government forces has crippled eastern parts of the country and forced thousands of people from the camps they had been sheltering in following earlier conflicts this year.

Christian Aid believes there are now 700,000 people in Goma and the surrounding areas at risk from fighting and the worsening humanitarian crisis.

As the rebels continue to make further advances across the region, the development agency says the number of people in need of assistance is likely to rise.

It has raised serious concerns over the safety of displaced civilians in light of atrocities, including rape and executions, committed by M23 rebels in the past.

A UN report out this week says the M23 rebels are being supported by Rwanda and Uganda, and even suggests that Rwanda is beind their decisions.

Although both governments deny the accusations, Christian Aid said the UK must act on the "strong evidence" against the two countries in the report.

Christian Aid's policy and advocacy adviser for Central Africa, Chantal Daniels, urged the UK Government to use its influence in the region and its position on the UN Security Council to invest in the development of a long-term stabilisation framework that will address the root causes of the conflict.

The UK Government is also being asked to promote the appointment of a UN/African Union special envoy to lead negotiations.

"With the current upsurge of violence and the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, there is a desperate need for the UK Government to position itself clearly and to push actively for solutions for the current military and humanitarian crisis in the DRC," said Daniels.

"This requires robust engagement with all relevant actors in the region to end the fighting and to step up efforts to guarantee protection of civilians and increased means for humanitarian assistance."