More than 8,000 women raped last year by fighters in eastern DR Congo – UN

The Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, South Kivu is one of the few referral centres for sexually violated women

8 February 2010 – The number of women raped in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where sexual violence committed by warring factions has become endemic, topped 8,000 last year, according to fresh estimates released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Although the mainly ethnic Hutu rebel militia, known as the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), who have been operating in the DRC since 1994 Rwandan genocide are thought to be responsible for most of the rapes, members of the national army (FARDC) are also guilty of sexual abuse in North and South Kivu provinces.

UNFPA noted that humanitarian agencies have praised the Government for its efforts to end rape committed by its troops, but believe that much more can be done to put an end to impunity.

Meanwhile, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan militia notorious for abducting children to use as child soldiers and sex slaves, continue its attacks on civilians in Orientale Province – also in north-eastern DRC – with great intensity, reported the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

OCHA said that in 2009 the LRA killed 849 civilians and abducted a further 1,486, including 185 children, according to the available data.

In addition, OCHA said that on 27 January, two children were abducted from a village close to Niangara in Province Orientale while an attack on the same night close to Dungu, in the same province, left one person dead and five homes burned to the ground.

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