UN Officials Call For End To Crisis In Eastern DR Congo

The officials also pointed out that hate speech is one of the factors fuelling the ongoing armed conflict in eastern DR Congo, and it has created distrust among communities in the country.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet and the UN Special Counsellor for the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Nderitu, say they are worried about the continued clashes between the Democratic Republic of Congo and M23 rebels in the eastern part of the country.

According to a just-published UN statement, the two senior UN officials called for the immediate cessation of all attacks against civilians. 

“We call on all parties to respect the international law on human rights and the international humanitarian law,” Bachelet and Nderitu pleaded in the document.

“We call on the government to ensure that those responsible for abuses and violations committed answer for their actions.”

The two UN officials also expressed concerns over recent developments in Bunagana in the Rutshuru territory of North Kivu province, where restrictions on free movement and the looting and sacking of official buildings, private enterprises and media officers by M23 fighters were reported.

“We have also noted the increase in hate speech and incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence throughout the country, and particularly against members of the Kinyarwanda speaking community – the DR Congo government has accused Rwanda of supporting the M23.”

“Hate speech nourishes the conflict and exacerbates distrust among communities. It focuses on aspects that had little importance, inciting a language of the type ‘we against them’ and reducing social coherence between communities formerly living together.”

According to the statement, the UN has enumerated eight cases of hate speech and incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. 

The hate speeches were made, among others, by personalities of political parties, community leaders, civil society actors and members of the Congolese diaspora.

The senior UN official encouraged the Congolese parliament to accelerate the process of adopting the proposed law on racism, xenophobia and tribalism to reinforce the judicial context to prevent hate speech.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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