Violence in DRC Draws Renewed UN Attention
OHCHR calls for greater MONUSCO presence in Eastern Congo
Photo courtesy of UNifeed
United Nations officials have expressed a renewed concern about ongoing violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as massacres of civilians continue in the Eastern region of North Kivu, near the country’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda.
“We have seen a spate of killings, burning of villages, attacks against civilians since the beginning of April,” said Scott Campbell the UN Joint Human Rights Office Representative in Kinshasa. “And the victims of these attacks have been primarily women and children."
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is still gingerly recovering from the Second Congo War, which was waged in the nation from 1998 to 2003. This conflict, which killed some 5.4 million people, was the deadliest since World War II, and has left deep searing scars on the Congo’s people, countryside, and psyche.
While the country has, in name, been at peace for almost a decade, some densely jungled eastern provinces, like North Kivu, remain under the command of militias and warlords, whose personal armies wreak havoc on civilian populations.
“What we are seeing in many of these provinces and remote areas are armed groups taking advantage of a security vacuum to expand their territory seeking basically, access to mines and other economic resources and in doing so they are carrying out grave human rights violations – attacking civilians,” Mr. Campbell reported.
The United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR)’s fresh concerns in the region stem from a wave of attacks on villages and towns in the vicinity of Ufamandu and Masisi. They believe that culpability for these attacks lies with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and associated militias.
In response, the OHCHR has recommended that the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) increase its spending on military protection of civilians in the Eastern Congo and continue its efforts to find the leaders of the FDLR and like groups and bring them to justice.