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International Community Concerned About Hutu Rebels in Eastern DRC

UN and international officials met yesterday in the DRC to discuss ways of ridding the eastern part of the country of the various rebel groups operating there -- in particular, Hutu rebels.

Reporter Kari Barber is following developments. She spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua from Goma.

“This was a meeting with…the defense minister of Rwanda, the defense minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as other representatives from those countries. And we had ambassadors from several European countries. There were representatives from the United States, South Africa, the African Union. And they were all meeting to talk about how to implement an agreement that was made several weeks ago about how to deal with the problem of what they’re calling ‘negative forces’ in this area in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo…. The first step is to deal with the Rwandan Hutu rebels…a lot of these are people who were involved in the genocide in 1994 in Rwanda and then fled to Congo afterwards,” she says.

Renegade general Laurent Nkunda says he is fighting to protect Tutsi in the DRC from the Hutu rebels. Most of those killed in the genocide were Tutsi, along with moderate Hutu. So, officials say if they can rid the area of the Hutu rebels, it may help ease the situation with Nkunda and other rebel forces in the area, such as the Mai Mai.

Barber says the past few have seen little fighting between government and Nkunda forces. She says rebels have pulled out of a strategic town on the way to the provincial capital of Goma, but it’s unclear why.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres visited the region over the weekend. Barber says Guterres said that armed groups have been going into camps for the displaced to recruit fighters and that this must stop. She says he also called for a political solution to the conflict