Brown: Congo must not become another Rwanda

By James Tapsfield and Gavin Cordon, PA

Gordon Brown warned today that the world must not allow a repeat of the Rwandan genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Prime Minister spoke out in the Saudi capital Riyadh on the first leg of his tour of Gulf states amid mounting fears of a humanitarian catastrophe in the central African state.

The current conflict in the Congo has is roots in the genocide 14 years ago in neighbouring Rwanda where up to a million people were killed when Hutu extremists turned on their Tutsi neighbours.

"I am very concerned by the situation in the Congo," Mr Brown said. "Thousands have been displaced. We must not allow Congo to become another Rwanda."

But despite Mr Brown's strong words, Foreign Secretary David Miliband has played down the prospect of British troops being sent to the DRC to bolster the United Nations peacekeeping force.

Mr Miliband yesterday flew into the Congo with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner in a joint attempt to help find a diplomatic solution to renewed conflict between rebel and government forces.

Earlier, however, Foreign Office Minister Lord Malloch-Brown had disclosed that contingency plans were be drawn up for the deployment of a European Union force - including UK troops - to support the UN.

However, with UK forces already stretched fighting on two fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr Miliband was quick to pour cold water on the suggestion that British troops could soon be caught up in a new overseas entanglement.

"We are not at the moment looking at sending British troops to join the UN force," he told reporters during a visit to a refugee camp in eastern DRC.

"Seventeen thousand are in the country at the moment. What we do need to do is make sure that those troops are properly deployed in the regions that are under the greatest stress so that the humanitarian aid can get in."

Nevertheless the fact the ministers are willing to discuss the possibility that British troops could be sent to the region will be seen as an indication of just how serious the situation has become.

Some 250,000 people are thought have fled their homes in recent weeks since the breakdown of a UN-brokered ceasefire in the region.

The rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda has said that he returned to arms in order to protect his Tutsi community from Rwandan Hutus who fled to DRC after carrying out the genocide of 1994.

However his own forces - which are now poised on the outskirts of the regional capital Goma, after DRC government troops fled in the face of their advance - have also acquired a reputation for murder, rape and looting.

Mr Miliband and Mr Kouchner - yesterday met the Congolese president Joseph Kabila for talks in the capital Kinshasa - before flying on to Rwanda for further discussions with the country's president, Paul Kagame.

The Rwandans have been accused of supporting Gen Nkunda - a claim they deny - while the rebels in turn accuse the Congolese government of backing the Hutu militias.

Mr Miliband and Mr Kouchner were hoping that they could persuade the two presidents - who have now agreed to meet - to use their influence to bring the fighting to an end.

"We know that while humanitarian aid depends on security, security depends on a proper political process. That's what we were discussing," Mr Miliband said.

Shadow international development secretary Andrew Mitchell said that the Conservatives would support the deployment of the EU battlegroup to the Congo to bolster the UN peacekeeping force.

However he said that countries other than Britain should take the lead.

"There are a large number of other European countries with military forces which could help who are nothing like as overstretched as Britain is," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices