30 August 2010 The United Nations special envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today condemned the recent incident of gang rape by members of armed groups in the east of the country, saying that the UN mission there was reviewing its procedures so that it can offer better protection to civilians.
“We have already started a review of our actions and our procedures to determine what we could have done better and faster to protect and assist victims of these heinous rapes,” said Roger Meece, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in DRC and head of the UN peacekeeping force there, MONUSCO.
At least 154 civilians were raped in 13 villages along a 21-kilometre stretch of road in North Kivu province’s Banamukira territory between 30 July and 2 August, with the attackers blocking the road and preventing the villagers from reaching outside communications. Many homes were also looted.
The atrocities have been blamed on the Mai-Mai militia and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group of ethnic Hutu fighters linked to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
“We work in partnership with security forces of the Congolese State and we seek every day to improve our ability to protect people in danger,” Mr. Meece said in a statement. “The many criticisms made in the context of the events at Kibua do not reflect the realities of what happened,” he said.
He noted that despite progress towards peace in DRC, foreign and local armed groups continued to pillage villages, commit rape and kill people.
“As part of its mandate, MONUSCO will continue to support the Government to find a solution to this problem and bring peace and stability in this part of Congolese territory,” Mr. Meece said.
He said MONUSCO was working with the national authorities in an effort to protect civilians, and noted that the mission had already started an initiative to improve communication with residents of areas where it is deployed.
“This initiative will further be strengthened with the implementation, very soon, of early warning centres,” Mr. Meece said. “The indignation raised worldwide by the acts of criminals must prompt us to act more decisively against the perpetrators and to mobilize ourselves so that
law and order prevail against barbarism,” he added.
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