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May 23, 2013

UN Chief Goes to Eastern DRC After Clashes

by VOA News

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon flew into the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo Thursday, just hours after a halt in fighting between rebels and government troops.

Rebel group M23 had announced a temporary cease-fire before Ban arrived in Goma, the capital of war-torn North Kivu province.  Congo's government says 19 people were killed in three days of fighting between the army and M23 north of the city.  

The U.N. secretary-general is on a regional tour to promote peace and development in the eastern DRC, where years of chronic unrest has displaced two million people.

A reporter for VOA says Ban met with a local governor Thursday and visited a hospital that treats victims of sexual violence.  His next stop is in Rwanda, which U.N. experts have accused of supporting M23 - an allegation Rwanda denies.  

Earlier this week, Mr. Ban called for faster deployment of a U.N. "intervention brigade" that is authorized to combat the many militia and rebel groups active in the eastern DRC.  He also says the region needs to see more development before it can be stabilized.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim is traveling with Mr. Ban on his Great Lakes trip, as is the U.N. envoy to the region, Mary Robinson.

On Wednesday, the World Bank announced $1 billion in proposed new funding for Africa's volatile Great Lakes region.  About half of the money would be used for hydroelectric projects that would provide power for the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.