A United Nations investigation has confirmed reports of serious human rights abuses perpetrated by soldiers and armed groups operating in the northeastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN mission in the country said today.
According to the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC), corroborating testimonies reveal "systematic looting and rape" as well as summary executions and abductions used as weapons of war by soldiers of the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) and the Congolese Rally for Democracy/National (RCD-N) during their occupation of Mambasa territory in the latter part of last year.
The UN team, dispatched late last month to follow up on reports of human rights abuses, interviewed 368 people - victims and witnesses alike - during two weeks spent in Mangina and Oicha villages, where tens of thousands of displaced people found refuge.
Along with the abuses confirmed in those villages and others on the main road between Mambasa and Mangina, the investigators also verified that among the people executed, mutilated and cannibalized by the MLC and RCD-N military forces, there were members of the Pygmies' community forced to leave the forest. The UN continues to receive testimonies from the thousands displaced in Oicha and Butembo.
The exact number of the victims has so far not been determined.
The investigation team's preliminary report was presented to the UN Security Council in New York and to the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.