‘Rampant Abuse’ Against Civilians on The Rise in Eastern Congo

Amid fighting that has displaced half a million of Congolese over the past few months, rampant abuse against civilians also proliferates in easter part of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Reports say that as the fighting continues, large areas of North Kivu have been left without an adequate security presence.

In the province’s Masisi and Walikale territories, several armed groups have taken advantage of the power vacuum to attack villages as well as settlements for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

In addition, the armed groups have destroyed and looted houses, killed people belonging to ethnic groups seen as hostile, and subjected entire communities to extortion.

Kabibi Tabu, a 23year old young woman who lost both legs and her six-month old baby in a landmine blast in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo. UN Photo

The United Nations refugee agency today expressed condemnation on the rampant abuse against civilians in the country.

“Our staff and partners in Uganda, Rwanda and eastern DRC have been receiving regular and extensive reports of widespread human rights violations and abuses.” – Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Andrej Mahecic

According to UNHCR, the abuses include indiscriminate and summary killings of civilians, rape and other sexual abuse, torture, arbitrary arrests, assaults, looting, extortion of food and money, destruction of property, forced labour, forced military recruitment, including children, and ethnically-motivated violence.

DRC troops have been fighting the so-called M23, a group of former national army soldiers who mutinied in April.

The DRC troops have received support from peacekeepers serving with the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).

However, the UNHCR says the worsening security situation in eastern DRC is severely affecting the agency’s capacity to deliver assistance outside the established IDP camps north and west of Goma, the capital of North Kivu.

In June this year, with the recent armed mutiny raging the eartern part of Congo, the Security Council has expressed strong condemnation of the mutiny by renegade soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as the killing and abuse of civilians, mostly women and children.

Reports say fighting between government troops and renegade fighters has escalated following the mutiny by soldiers led by Bosco Ntaganda and Sultani Makenga in April, particularly in eastern provinces of North and South Kivu.

The fighting has reportedly displaced more than 100,000 people, including many who have fled to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

The Members of the Security Council expressed strong concern about the recent developments in the Kivus and the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation resulting in significant flows of displaced persons and refugees

The 15-member body strongly condemned the mutiny of officers and soldiers, formerly integrated into the DRC armed forces (known by the French acronym FARDC) and now operating in North Kivu as an armed group under the name M23.

The Council called on all countries in the region to actively cooperate with the Congolese authorities in demobilizing the M23 and all other armed groups.

In addition, the Council strongly condemned the killing and abuse of civilians by armed groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

The Council members expressed appreciation for the quick response both from the DRC Government and the peacekeeping operation known as the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to these serious attacks against the civilians.

Reports say armed mutiny has worsened the security situation and massive displacement of civilians in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The armed mutiny that erupted in April has destabilized the Kivus and the region and increases the general threat to millions of civilians.

In May this year, fighting has resumed in eastern DRC in recent weeks between Government forces, dissident groups and militia, causing new inflows of refugees enter Rwanda and Uganda.

Reports say 30,000 refugees have arrived in Uganda this month. In addition, Uganda was already host to 175,127 refugees, including 97,424 from DRC.

There were an estimated 1.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of July 2011, the vast majority of them in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu. This included over 128,000 people newly displaced in the first quarter of 2011.

A peace agreement in 2003 formally brought years of war to a close, but fighting flared again in North Kivu that same year. An estimated 1.3 million IDPs remain in the DRC, while 350,000 Congolese have fled to other countries.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.