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Villages emptied amid DRC fighting

  |   Sept. 19, 2013 at 10:14 AM
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Entire villages in parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have emptied as civilians flee fresh rebel fighting, the U.N. peace mission in DRC said.

Madnodje Mounoubai, spokesman for the U.S. Stabilization Mission in DRC, said during a regular press briefing at least 80,000 people have been forced to flee because of a new outbreak of violence in the country's eastern provinces.

"Cases of rape, kidnappings and other abuses by armed men have been reported," he said Wednesday. "Entire villages have been emptied of their populations."

Recent fighting between rebel forces and the national military are separate from ongoing clashes with the March 23 Movement, comprised of former soldiers who mutinied last year.

Fighting between M23 and government forces, who are supported by U.N. peacekeepers, has displaced more than 100,000 people in a country where a humanitarian crisis has impacted the lives of an estimated 2.6 million DRC civilians.

Herve Ladsous, U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping, said last week a DRC peacekeeping unit mandated to use force pushed M23 away from their strongholds in eastern North Kivu province.

Uganda hosted regional delegates in early September in an effort to find a political solution to the crisis.

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