UN says sexual violence on the rise in DRC

UN investigators say they have proof of at least 126 rapes carried out by soldiers fleeing a rebel offensive.

    The UN and human rights groups are warning of a rise in sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Earlier this month, a senior UN official said the organisation's peacekeeping mission in the country had threatened to stop supporting two Congolese army battalions unless soldiers accused of raping scores of women in an eastern town were prosecuted.

    In December, UN investigators said they had proof of at least 126 rapes carried out by soldiers fleeing a rebel offensive.

    Armed groups in eastern DR Congo often use rape as a weapon of war.

    The UN said the rapes occurred in the town of Minova, to the south of the city of Goma which was captured by M23 rebels in November.

    In early March, the UN peace mission issued an ultimatatum to two units within the Congolese army to act on those suspected of raping civilians. 

    The mission said that if no action was taken against those in the army accused of rape, by the end of March, the UN would stop working with their brigades.

    In February, regional African leaders signed a UN-brokered agreement to end the conflict, which might lead to the establishment of a special UN intervention brigade.

    Some 800,000 people have fled the most recent unrest which began in April 2012 after M23 rebels left the army.

    M23 rebels come from the Tutsi minority group and say the government did not live up to its promises in a 2009 deal, which saw rebel fighters incorporated into the army.

    Rwanda and Uganda have denied UN allegations that they are backing the rebellion's leaders.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera And Agencies


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