Refugees marching home as US, UN envoys arrive in eastern Congo

KIBUMBA, Congo (AP) -- Top diplomats from the U.S. and the United Nations are in eastern Congo today, as thousands of refugees try to take advantage of a cease-fire and head home.

Rebel troops have been manning checkpoints outside the provincial capital of Goma, where they halted their advance two days ago. Their leader Laurent Nkunda says he wants to allow humanitarian aid through and refugees to go home.

The U.N. refugee agency says it's gettting reports that 50,000 people have been forced out of refugee camps in rebel-held areas in recent days and are in "desperate need of help."

Meanwhile, diplomats are trying to arrange a meeting between Congo's president and the president of neighboring Rwanda to sort out the issues behind the conflict.

The rebels complain that Congo's transition to democracy has excluded ethnic Tutsis. Nkunda also alleges Congo has not protected Tutsis from Hutu militias who escaped Rwanda after that country's genocide more than a decade ago.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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