U.N. says 126 rapes committed in Congo town after army arrived
By Michelle Nichols | December 19, 2012 9:35 AM EST
The U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo found that 126 rapes were committed in an eastern town after Congolese troops fled there last month as rebels advanced on the provincial capital of Goma, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
Congolese troops, aided by a U.N. peacekeepers have been battling the so-called M23 rebels - who U.N. experts and Congolese officials say are backed by neighbouring Rwanda - for the past eight months in the resource-rich east of the country.
Congolese troops retreated to the nearby town of Minova when the rebels captured Goma on November 20. Kinshasa regained control of Goma almost two weeks later when the rebels withdrew, but the United Nations said the situation remains "tense and fragile."
The U.N. mission, known at MONUSCO, was investigating alleged human rights abuses in and around Minova from November 20 to November 30 and this month interviewed more than 200 people in the area, said U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky.
"According to preliminary findings the U.N. mission has documented at least 126 cases of rape. The teams were also able to confirm the killings of two civilians, including one minor," Nesirky told reporters.
"The Congolese Armed Forces have started investigating those human rights violations," he said. "To date nine soldiers from the armed forces have been arrested, two in connection with the rapes and seven in connection with looting."
The United Nations was working with the Congolese government to establish which army units the men belonged to so the world body could review any support provided to those units, Nesirky said.
MONUSCO has more than 17,000 troops in the Congo - a nation the size of Western Europe - and even before the M23 rebellion, the peacekeepers were stretched thin and the U.N. force was struggling to fulfil its mandate of protecting civilians.
PROGRESS AGAINST LRA
The U.N. mission is also helping the Democratic Republic of Congo combat fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report on Tuesday that here had been 180 attacks presumed to have been carried out by Kony's LRA guerrillas this year.
Ban said 138 of those attacks were in the Congo and 42 in neighbouring Central African Republic.
"They resulted in the deaths of 39 civilians," Ban said. "A total of 193 persons have been abducted, 84 from the Central African Republic and 109 from the Democratic Republic of Congo. One third of the abductees were children."
Kony, who has been accused of terrorizing northern Uganda for 20 years, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. His guerrillas are accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves, and of hacking off victims' limbs as a method of intimidation and revenge.
In June, the U.N. Security Council called for global help to equip an African Union force hunting Kony's forces, which lack basic resources such as boots, food, transport and training.
"I am encouraged by the progress made in tackling the threat and impact of (the) LRA," said Ban. "I urge the international community to maintain its attention to the LRA issue and to provide the financial support needed by the African Union and the United Nations to continue their work."
Violence by the Lords Resistance Army has subsided since 2005 when it was ejected from Uganda. Kony is now thought to command only hundreds of followers scattered in jungle hideouts.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Christopher Wilson)
Most Popular Slideshows
- Flight MH17 Attack: Russians Claim 'Putin A Terrorist,' Memorial at Dutch Embassy Overflows [PHOTOS]
- Typhoon Rammasun Claims 18 Lives in China, Incurs $4.32B Losses (PHOTOS)
- Ellen DeGeneres Caught Cheating with Mutual Friend Before Portia de Rossi’s Rehab – Reports [PHOTOS]
- Malaysia Airlines MH17: Vital Black Boxes Finally Land in Hands of Malaysian Authorities, Rebels Announce Ceasefire (PHOTOS/VIDEOS)
Join the Conversation
- Tourre on stand says email in SEC case 'not accurate'
- Syrian authorities blocking access to needy in Homs - Red Cross
- Faith in European Union at low ebb, EU poll says
- Former UBS banker gets 18 months, $1 million fine, for muni bid-rigging scheme
- U.S. judge halts challenges to Detroit's bankruptcy bid
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Apps Leak Online, Five Fresh Features to Expect from the Android Smartphone
- Moto 360 Price Speculations, Key Features, Strategic Release Date, Design: A Watch That is More Than Just Time
- Windows Phone 8.1 Update Rollout: 20 Nokia Lumia Phones Eligible and 13 New Features to be Added
- Three New Moto G Successors Spotted in FCC Document Dubbed Moto G2, Moto M and More --Reports
- iPad Air 2 Release Date Will Skip IGZO Panel; To Rollout with Super-Slim iPad Mini Air
- Upcoming iPad Mini 3 Could be 30% Thinner and Likely be Called iPad Mini Air; Apple Q3 Results Show 9% Decrease in iPad Sales
- Sony Xperia M2 vs. Moto G – Specifications, Features and Price Showdown