United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon is to join the president of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Joseph Kabila and Rwandan president Paul Kagame in Nairobi on 7 November for a special African Union summit on the crisis in eastern DRC. The presidents of the African Union, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Africa will also take part in the meeting.

The summit has been called to discuss a solution to the conflict in the North Kivu region of DRC involving Congolese troops, the pro-government Mayi-Mayi militia and rebels loyal to General Laurent Nkunda, who claims he is trying to protect his Tutsi community from aggression by Hutu extremists who fled to eastern DRC from neighbouring Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. Kinshasa has repeatedly accused the Rwandan government of backing Nkunda, a claim which Kagame has always denied.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been displaced by the latest outbreak of fighting, which resumed at the end of August after a period of relative calm. Many have fled to the regional capital Goma, where the humanitarian situation is desperate. The UN has 17,000 peacekeepers in DRC but only a few thousand in the North Kivu region and they have been accused of not doing enough to protect the civilian population.

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