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Death is all around...will it make the front pages of our papers?

The Democratic Republic of Congo faces a potential massacre of horrific proportions unless the international community forestalls it, a senior United Nations official has warned.
The UN's Deputy Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, Carolyn McAskie, told journalists at the end of a trip to eastern DR Congo that ethnic hatred was being deliberately stirred up.


Aid agencies estimate that more than two million people have already died, mostly from starvation and hunger, during the four-year war which pulled in troops from several countries in the region.

Violence has flared again in recent weeks as militia groups have taken advantage of a vacuum left by the withdrawal of thousands of foreign troops.


Ms McAskie told journalists in New York there were reports of children arriving at hospitals with machete wounds.

"We already have some reports of violent killings, where estimates of the number of dead range from 200 to 1,000," she said


Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan said in a letter to the United Nations that the area was seeing "extremist calls for ethnically pure towns and villages".

"Extremists who were once on the margins of the ethnic groups are now in leading positions. As extreme hatred is escalating, Amnesty International fears that deliberate incitement could lead to the possibility of genocide," she said.

Amnesty says that clashes between the Hema and Lendu have killed an estimated 50,000 people, mainly civilians, since June 1999, and forced some 500,000 people to flee the province.

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