The United Nations has confirmed that members of two armed rebel groups raped at least 154 civilians in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It has also condemned the attacks, in which homes were looted and roads were blocked off in order to prevent villagers from accessing help. Spanning 13 villages located along a 21km road in North Kivu’s Banamukira territory, the attacks were carried out between 30 July and 2 August. The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and the Mai-Mai militia were behind the violence.
Secretary-general, Ban Ki- moon along with Margot Wallström, the UN special representative for sexual violence in conflict, said the mass rape was demonstrative of the endemic nature of sexual violence in the country. The pair asserted their commitment to helping the authorities bring the rebels to justice.
Due to the severity of the crimes, the UN dispatched assistant secretary-general Atul Khare, officer-in-charge of the organisation’s peacekeeping operations to the country. On arrival, Khare met with victims, local community representatives and the peacekeeping mission to the country, MONUSCO.
Last year alone, an estimated 8,000 women were raped by warring factions in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu, according to the UN population fund (UNFPA).