Rape by soldiers on the rise

2013-01-18 22:48
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Goma - Rape by armed men of displaced women is on the rise to an alarming extent in camps around Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a medical charity.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) took in 95 victims of sexual assault between 3 December and 5 January, the charity said in a statement released on Wednesday.

Most of the attacks happen on a hill where women from displaced people's camps go to fetch wood for cooking, Thierry Goffeau, the MSF chief in the unstable and strife-torn North Kivu province, told AFP on Friday.

MSF deplored a "lack of involvement by bodies responsible for the protection of the civilian population", since the reinforced presence of government troops and armed movements close to the camps "created chronic insecurity, where rapes are common currency".

"On Thursday alone, we had 27 cases," Goffeau said, adding that word of mouth details about clinical facilities could explain the growing number of raped women who come to MSF at the Mugunga III camp west of Goma, the capital of North Kivu, where they receive confidential treatment.

In mid-October, the Heal Africa Hospital, which deals notably with rape cases, expressed concern about the "dramatic" increase in sexual assaults in North Kivu, adding that it had registered "about 5 000 raped women since the beginning of the year" 2012.

The hospital particularly blamed "armed groups" active in the region and added that government soldiers were also guilty of rape.

Goffeau said that "armed men" appeared to be attacking women spontaneously, rather than following a longstanding policy of systematic rape aimed at destroying the social fabric and as a "weapon of war".

No rebels from the March 23 Movement (M23) - which seized control of Goma for 11 days at the end of November - were present on Rusayo hill, which was instead occupied by soldiers of the Congolese army, Goffeau said.

He accused a local tribal militia, the Mai Mai Nyatura, and rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) - two movements regularly blamed for atrocities - of operating in the area, as well as prisoners who broke out of Goma jail when M23 took the city.

External security

The Mugunga III camp is run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Congolese government is supposed to maintain order. Troops of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country are responsible for external security.

Since M23 left Goma, only 450 policemen have returned to the city, which has about one million inhabitants.

The army is based about 20km south of Goma, mainly at Minova.

Government troops are suspected of having raped 126 women, killed two civilians and gone on a looting spree, according to UN sources.

Fighting between M23 and the army has displaced 500 000 people since April, according to the UNHCR.

After the battles that led to the rebel occupation of Goma, more than 100 000 people took refuge in displaced people's camps around the town.

Before Goma fell, the Mugunga III camp alone sheltered 17 000 people, but its population is growing daily because of the closure of small makeshift camps set up as M23 advanced, Goffeau said.

Latrines and a water supply system have been created, but food distribution has been suspended because occupants of the camp came under regular nightly attack by armed men who stole the food just after it was handed out.

Read more on:    unhcr  |  drc  |  central africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.