Geneva, Sep 24 (IANS) At least 303 people, including 235 women and 52 girls, were raped by armed militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo between July 30 and Aug 2, the UN said Friday.
‘The known victims include 235 women, 52 girls, 13 men and three boys,’ said the report released by the UN Joint Human Rights Office. It was based on a probe into the cases in 13 villages in Walikale region in Congo’s Nordkivu province.
The report also said three armed militia groups looted at least 923 houses and 42 shops and kidnapped 116 civilians to use as forced labour, adding that the Congolese army and police had ‘serious shortcomings’ in their ability to prevent such mass rapes, Xinhua reported.
This inability to prevent or stop the attacks was compounded by subsequent failings on the part of UN peacekeepers, who did not receive any specific training on the protection of civilians, and suffered from a number of operational constraints, the report said.
Three rebel groups were identified in the report – the Mai-Mai Cheka group with about 200 members, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and a bloc involved with Emmanuel Nsengiyumva.
The rebels came to the villages saying they were there to protect them, but looted and raped them. The militia also cut off all phone communications, it said.