Gender & SGBVNews

Women And Girls Are Being Used As Sex Slaves In DR Congo – UNHCR

The UN Refugee Agency has raised concerns over the increasing report of gender-based violence among internally displaced women and girls by armed groups in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Tanganyika Province.

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has expressed concerns on the constant sexual violation against the internally displaced Congolese women and girls, caused by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Tanganyika Province.

The UN estimated that as of July 2021, nearly 310,000 people have fled their home due to insecurity and violence and are currently displaced in Tanganyika Province.

Shabia Mantoo, UNHCR spokesperson, said according to local authorities, more than 23,000 people have been displaced since May in Northern Tanganyika’s Kongolo Territory alone, most have fled insecurity multiple times in the past three months.

“In the past two weeks, humanitarian partners in the Kongolo and Mbulula health zones, have recorded 243 incidents of rape, 48 of which involved minors, in 12 different villages,” Shabia said in a press briefing on Friday, Aug. 13.

“This is an average of 17 reported attacks each day. The actual figures are thought to be even higher as reporting of gender-based violence (GBV) remains taboo in most communities.” 

“The attacks are reportedly being carried out by rival armed groups competing to take control over mining areas especially gold mines and as retaliation against government-led military operations. Civilians have found themselves trapped in the middle of these confrontations between different groups.”

She further disclosed in the press briefing at Palais des Nations in Geneva that UNHCR staffs have witnessed horrific testimonies of extreme violence and armed groups have been accused of carrying out mass rape as women attempt to flee their homes.

“Some women and girls have been abducted and used as sex slaves by armed group members. Ransoms have been demanded from families in exchange for their freedom,” Shabia said.

She explained that UNHCR and its partners have continued to work with local authorities and humanitarian actors to ensure that psychosocial and medical support is provided to survivors, but with the conflict, it is difficult for them to reach health centres for assistance.

She called on the authorities to urgently scale up security in the so-called “triangle of death” an area bordering several localities between Tanganyika, Maniema, and South Kivu Provinces to guide civilians, especially women and girls; allow humanitarian access; and for investigations to be taken and the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

According to her, humanitarian and protection needs are growing and UNHCR is seeking further financial support. “We have received just 36 per cent of the US$205 million required for our DRC operation.”

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