Villagers in DRC raped, assaulted

By Time of article published Jun 24, 2011

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KINSHASA: More than 100 villagers in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo were raped or beaten in a two-day attack this month, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) said yesterday.

A local parliamentarian blamed army soldiers for the violence.

“Our teams have treated, since Tuesday, more than 100 people who were victims of rape or physical violence between June 10 and 12,” said Megan Hunter, head of the Dutch branch of MSF in Sud-Kivu province.

The attack took place in the Sud-Kivu village of Niakiele, she said.

Provincial parliamentarian Jean-Marie Ngoma blamed the assaults on “soldiers from the Congolese army”, headed by an officer named as Colonel Niragire Kifaru, a former member of the Mai Mai tribal militia.

More than 60 women in the village were raped, Ngoma said.

The resource-rich eastern DRC is an unstable area marked by violence blamed largely on the presence of the army and a host of militia and rebel groups.

On Wednesday, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported looting and atrocities committed overnight on June 10 in the villages of Kanguli, Abala and Niakiele.

Margot Wallstrom, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, in April told the UN Security Council that the conflict-traumatised country was “the rape capital of the world”.

Colonel Vianney Kazarama, spokesman for the DRC armed forces (FARDC) in Sud-Kivu, denied that Kifaru was involved in the rapes.

“This is false, he never committed an infraction. There are Mai Mai militia in the zone, and also (rebels of) the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.”

The FARDC spokesman nevertheless admitted that Kifaru had deserted and “taken to the bush, because he wanted troops (being integrated into the regular army) to be taken into consideration, because they had no water and nothing to eat.”

The DRC has a high incidence of rape, with a study released in May saying more than 1 100 women were raped every day. –

Sapa-AFP

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