Competing armed groups carrying out ‘mass rape’ in Congo: UN

Raising alarm over widespread, systematic sexual violence in the southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN has said that armed groups were carrying out mass rape in the African nation.

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said that people who were displaced in the DR Congo’s Tanganyika Province had revealed horrific testimonies of the ‘mass rape’ carried out by the armed groups.

The agency is “gravely concerned about incidents of widespread and systematic sexual violence against Congolese women and girls”, spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo told reporters in Geneva.

“In just the past two weeks, humanitarian partners in the Kongolo and Mbulula health zones, have recorded 243 incidents of rape, 48 of which involved minors, in 12 different villages. The attacks are reportedly being carried out by rival armed groups competing to maintain control over mining areas — especially gold mines — and as retaliation against government-led military operations,” said Mantoo.

“Civilians find themselves trapped in the middle of intense confrontations between different groups. Our staff have heard horrific testimonies of extreme violence. Forcibly displaced persons have accused armed groups of carrying out mass rape as women attempt to flee their homes,” added Mantoo.

According to Mantoo, armed groups had kidnapped women and girls in order to use them as sex slaves and ransoms have been demanded from families to set them free.

According to UN, around 310,000 people have been displaced by insecurity and violence and are currently displaced in Tanganyika Province.

Competing armed groups carrying out ‘mass rape’ in Congo: UN