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AU Holds Key Summit Dominated by Conflicts in South Sudan, CAR

Heads of state from the 54-member African Union are meeting for a two-day summit in Addis Ababa, with pressure to help end the fighting and address the humanitarian crises in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

Peace and security issues were high on the agenda for the summit that began Thursday in Ethiopia's capital.

Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairman of the AU, told VOA that Africa appreciates the international community's support in addressing security concerns, but that ultimately solutions must come from within.

"The main thing on the ground is to see that there is progress and to see that Africa is not only leading, but that those countries are assuming their own responsibilities. Because at the end of the day, this cannot be brought from external sources, it must be internally generated, and the effort of the African Union is to accompany those countries so that they themselves can move out of the crisis."

It remains unclear, however, how much member countries can do to resolve the conflicts.

Last week, South Sudan's warring parties signed a shaky cease-fire, but witnesses say clashes between government forces and rebels are continuing. Thousands have been killed and around 800,000 civilians forced from their homes since fighting erupted last month. Analysts are also warning that the Juba government may be incapable of quelling the revolt.

The AU also will host a donors conference Saturday to raise funds for humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic.

Unrest in South Sudan began in mid-December after President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup -- a charge Machar has denied. The United Nations says 100,000 civilians have fled to neighboring countries.

The C.A.R. descended into unrest last year after rebels topped President Francois Bozize.

More than 1,000 people are feared killed since violence intensified in Bangui in early December. U.N. aid workers estimate that more than 900,000 have been driven from their homes.

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