5 000 rapes as unrest engulfs eastern DRC

2012-10-18 19:09

Goma – At least 5 000 women have been raped this year in the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern province of North Kivu as a new rebellion has sown fresh unrest in the conflict-prone region, a local hospital said on Thursday.

"The number of rapes has risen dramatically: we have registered around 5 000 women raped since the start of the year in North Kivu. It's very dramatic," said Justin Paluku, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Heal Africa hospital in Goma, the provincial capital.

Renewed instability has engulfed the region since a group of soldiers mutinied from the army in April and began battling their former colleagues and sowing terror in the east.

The group, the M23, was formed by former fighters in an ethnic Tutsi rebel group that was integrated into the army under a 2009 peace deal whose terms the mutineers claim were never fully implemented.

Its members have been raping women and girls, abducting young men and boys to fight with them, and carrying out summary executions, including the killing of young recruits who tried to escape, according to the United Nations and rights groups.

Other armed groups active in the region have also capitalised on the instability to wage campaigns of their own, including attacks on locals.

Peace talks

The number of rapes "has skyrocketed since we've had this problem of multiple armed groups renewing their activity," said Paluku, whose hospital specialises in caring for victims of sexual violence.

The head of the M23's political wing, Jean-Marie Runiga, denied on Thursday that the group had committed rights abuses.

"So far there have been no abuses committed," Runiga told AFP.

"We do not have any child soldiers in our army," he added.

"Our soldiers are very disciplined, they cannot rape women and we cannot tolerate looting," he said, promising to bring any abuses to justice.

Runiga, who recently returned from peace talks mediated by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala, also repeated the M23's call for direct negotiations with President Joseph Kabila's government, threatening fresh unrest if no such talks were held.

"If there are no negotiations as soon as possible, there's a risk there will be clashes in the coming days," he said.

  • omo.naija.750 - 2012-10-18 19:22

    F*cking Animals!

  • braamc - 2012-10-18 19:30

    No different in SA

  • waterloo.mathis - 2012-10-18 19:51

    Let them rejoice! These Rwandans people are playing their games enjoyably... Their time is running out! Rwanda!!! The revolutionary is on his way!

  • rebecca.pooe - 2012-10-18 20:04

    More educated soldiers are needed in africa, this is totally unexceptable, it easy to convince an uneducated person to start shooting,especially if he has nothing to lose.

  • digger.dighead - 2012-10-18 20:27

    SA open your eyes this is where we are heading if we don't respect law and order, and enforce true democracy. Carry on with your violent unlawful protested and in fighting for power....the African way, and see where this once lovely country lands up.

  • passy.nzonde - 2012-10-19 10:03

    Rwanda has the backing of powerful individuals of this world. These individuals have a particular and personal interest in everything taking place on the eastern side of the DRC. Rwanda is playing the “facilitator” role by creating, arming and backing militia groups which are also tasked with looting natural resources and get them across to Rwanda among other things. These natural resources mainly minerals are then sold elsewhere and everyone shares the profit. Because of this, Rwanda is now a protégé of the very powerful of this world hence its arrogance vis a vis of everyone! It is offensive to notice that Rwanda which has repeatedly been accused (with proof) by UN as the country responsible for fuelling the crisis in DRC. Yet, we see the same Rwanda being offered a sit at the UN Security Council as a member!

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