Border traffic problems with Congo (Sapa-AFP, Brazzaville, 03/10) - Congo and the neighbouring, war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will work together to restore vital river traffic and security on the Congo and Oubangui waterways, officials said on Tuesday. Heavy fighting in north-western DRC between government troops and rebels has led to a ban on navigation on the Oubangui, a tributary of the Congo, which is key to getting supplies to people living in the north of Congo and in Central African Republic. Parts of the broad Congo river, which forms the rest of the border between the two countries, have also been closed to traffic. Delegations from the two governments met here on Monday and "agreed on the urgency" of restoring river traffic, an official statement issued here Tuesday said. It gave no details of the measures envisaged but said the two countries planned to resolve all security problems on the "international waterways" which form 1 500km of border, by October 30. Last month, Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso asked to be associated with the peace process in the DRC, stating that the war had serious repercussions on his own country, as it does on Central African Republic. Fighting has driven about 117 650 refugees across the border from DRC into virtually inaccessible areas in Congos northern Likouala region, where many have no assistance, according to officials here and to United Nations (UN) relief agencies. The two governments also called for a joint meeting with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on October 17, either in Brazzaville or Kinshasa, to "settle the problem of refugees and war-displaced people", according to the statement. Relations between the Congos have been soured by the fallout from the fighting in Equateur province between Kinshasas troops and rebels of the Congolese Liberation Movement. Clashes have continued unabated in what United Nations observers last month described as one of the most serious ongoing violations of a ceasefire signed last year by all parties to the DRC war. Kinshasa has accused the Brazzaville government of backing the rebels, but Sassou Nguessos government has strongly denied this and stressed that it has no interest in doing so. The Central African republic and Congo are neutral in the DRC conflict, which has drawn in the armies of at least five other countries, but Brazzaville and Kinshasa are linked by a joint defence pact signed under Angolan auspices.
This page was last updated on 22 December 2000.