UN: Rape on the rise in east DRC

2010-07-13 22:30

Geneva - Rape in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo appears to be on the rise, UN officials said on Tuesday.

A "high number" of sexual violence cases have been reported in the province of Orientale over the last few months, with the perpetrators believed to be civilians, according to local authorities quoted by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In 2009, the UN recorded 15 275 cases of rape in the eastern part of Congo, though officials say the actual numbers are likely to be higher.

The issue of rape as a weapon of war - and increasingly as a common crime - has plagued the central African nation for much of the last decade.

Meanwhile, the UN also said that about 70 000 people are believed to have been forced from their homes recently in the African country's volatile North Kivu area.

The displaced civilians were fleeing fighting between various armed groups, including the Congolese national army, Ugandan militias and armed Hutu organisations left over from the Rwandan civil war.

OCHA also warned that food and vaccine delivery projects in the Congo may be threatened, as donors this year have given only 41% of the $827m requested for humanitarian aid.

About 10 000 victims of sexual violence could also see support programmes cut, given the shortage of donations.