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UN Warns of Continued Unrest Impacting Civilians in DRC


United Nations officials say civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo are living in a "constant state of fear," because of widespread violence, rape, and looting.

U.N. officials said Friday that a ceasefire is holding between the Congolese government and the rebel forces led by General Laurent Nkunda. But officials said there is persistent unrest throughout the country.

The U.N. reports 20 cases of sexual violence last week alone in Goma, capital of North Kivu province.

And the U.N. refugee agency said Friday that a 20-year-old woman had been shot dead in the Kibati refugee camp in eastern Congo. They said many families have recently fled the camp, where an estimated 67,000 displaced people are living in makeshift shelters.

Meanwhile, DRC President Joseph Kabila is expected to meet Friday with his Angolan counterpart, for talks on the continuing unrest.

Angola has already pledged to send troops to DRC to help Kabila's government battle Nkunda's rebel forces.

The United Nations Security Council has also agreed to send 3,000 more peacekeepers to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The council unanimously approved the temporary surge on Thursday, although U.N. officials warned the new deployment could take weeks or even months.

The mission in Congo, the U.N.'s largest, already has 17,000 peacekeepers.

U.N. officials in Congo say a spike in violence since August has overstretched the mission. Peacekeepers have been redeployed in recent weeks from other parts of Congo to North Kivu, the epicenter of the violence. About 6,000 peacekeepers are in that area now.

Spokesman for the rebels Bertrand Bisimwa reported that there were fresh clashes Thursday near the village of Katoro. He and others say the fighting involved members of the pro-government Mai Mai militia and possibly some Congo-based Rwandan Hutu rebels.

Government forces and Nkunda's rebels have clashed repeatedly in the eastern DRC since August, following the collapse of a January peace deal. Nkunda says he is fighting to protect minority Tutsi communities from Rwandan Hutu extremists who entered the region after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

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