The United Nations has condemned acts of generalised and systematic sexual violence, including collective rapes perpetrated by armed groups in Tanganyika province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where thousands of people are displaced.
“The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is very preoccupied by the sexual violence perpetrated against women and young girls in this province of the Eastern DR Congo,” declared Shabia Mantoo, the UNHCR spokesperson during a press briefing Friday, Aug. 13.
The UNHCR called on the DR Congo authorities to do everything necessary to ensure that investigations are launched and that those responsible for the acts are brought to justice.
It also called on the DR Congo authorities “to reinforce with all urgency, the security in the zone called ‘the death triangle’ which includes several localities within the provinces of Tanganyika, Maniema and South-Kivu, in order to protect the civilians, and in particular, women and young girls and to permit humanitarian access.”
In the last two weeks, humanitarian partners of the UNHCR in the health zones of Kongolo and Mbulula have recorded 243 acts of rape, 48 of which were committed on minors in twelve different villages. This is an average of 17 sexual attacks per day.
“The real figures could be much higher, because the reporting of sexual violence is still taboo within most communities,” Mantoo said.
“Our personnel have heard frightening accounts of extreme violence. Displaced persons have accused armed groups of carrying out collective rape as the women try to flee from their homes.”
“Some women and young girls have been abducted and used as sex slaves by members of armed groups.”
According to the UNHCR, these attacks were carried out by rival armed groups which have been fighting for control of mineral zones, and in particular gold mines, as some sort of reprisals against military operations conducted by government forces.
In July this year, about 310,000 persons were displaced by insecurity and violence and are now living as displaced persons in Tanganyika province, according to the UN agency.
The UNHCR has been soliciting for supplementary financial support but to date has received only 30 per cent of the 205 million US dollars necessary for its operations in the DR Congo.
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