News / Africa

UN: Girls as Young as 6 Raped in DRC

Apollonie, a Congolese counselor, speaks with a rape victim in the HEAL Africa hospital in Goma, (File photo).
Apollonie, a Congolese counselor, speaks with a rape victim in the HEAL Africa hospital in Goma, (File photo).
Reuters
Democratic Republic of Congo troops raped at least 97 women and 33 girls, some as young as six, in the country's volatile east after they fled from advancing M23 rebels in late November, according to a U.N. report released on Wednesday.

The majority of the rapes by the Congolese army (FARDC) occurred in Minova during a two-day period, and most cases documented by U.N. Joint Human Rights Office were committed in the same manner.

"FARDC soldiers entered houses, usually in groups of three to six and, after threatening the inhabitants, looted whatever they could find," the Joint Human Rights Office, which is part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, wrote in its report on abuses in eastern Congo between Nov. 15 and Dec. 2.

"One or two of the soldiers would leave with the looted goods and at least one would stand guard as the remaining FARDC soldier’s raped women and girls in the house," the report said. "Most victims were raped by more than one soldier."

Twelve senior officers, including the commanders and deputy commanders of the 41st and 391st battalions, have been suspended over the Minova incidents and "were to be put at the disposal of military justice authorities."

The 391st battalion was trained by the United States in 2010 as "a model for future reforms within the Congolese armed forces," according to the U.S. Africa Command website.

The U.S. Defense Department said last month it condemned the crimes in Minova "irrespective of which unit is accused" and that U.S. training included teaching respect for human rights and prevention of gender-based violence.

The report said the United Nations threatened on Feb. 4 to withdraw support for battalions 41 and 391 over the accusations of rights abuses in Minova but decided to continue working with them after the commanders and deputy commanders were suspended.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, has a mandate to protect civilians and support operations by the Congolese army. There are more than 17,000 U.N. troops in Congo, a country the size of Western Europe.

Peacekeepers have been stretched thin by the M23 rebellion in the resource-rich eastern Congo. U.N. experts said last year the M23 rebels were backed by Rwanda, but Rwanda has repeatedly denied any involvement.

M23 rebels accused as well

After provincial capital Goma and the town of Sake fell to M23 rebels, the report said thousands of Congolese troops fled in a disorganized manner toward Minova, where they "committed mass rape and other acts of sexual violence, as well as cases of arbitrary execution, mistreatment and systematic looting."

A further 11 Congolese soldiers have been arrested and are awaiting trial in relation to incidents in Minova, although the U.N. report said only two of them face charges of rape and another two are accused of murder.

The report found that at least two people, including a 14-year-old boy, had been killed by Congolese troops during looting incidents near Minova, while some men were beaten when they tried to stop the troops from raping their wives.

"In one of these cases ... the victim was tied with ropes and beaten by FARDC soldiers while his wife was raped in the adjacent room," the report said.

The U.N. report also said that during the M23 occupation of Goma and Sake, the rebels "committed gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law against the civilian population and FARDC who had surrendered."

It documented widespread looting by M23 rebels, at least 11 arbitrary executions and 59 cases of sexual violence. "The victims, mostly wives of FARDC soldiers who had fled during the M23 advance, were raped," the report said.

M23 began taking parts of eastern Congo early last year, accusing the government of failing to honor a 2009 peace deal. That deal ended a previous rebellion and led to the rebels' integration into the army, but they have since deserted.

The U.N. Security Council also last month established a special intervention force within the peacekeeping mission, which one senior council diplomat has said would be able to conduct "search and destroy" operations against the M23 rebels and other armed groups in the country.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission is providing support to Congolese military justice officials conducting investigations into the allegations raised in the report. The U.N. Joint Human Rights Office interviewed more than 350 victims and direct and indirect witnesses for the report.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid