A United Nations human rights team has confirmed that members of two armed groups in the volatile east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) raped more than 150 women during an attack on a village in North Kivu province last month, a UN spokesperson said today.
Victims of the attack, which occurred on 30 July in the village of Bunangiri, which situated in the Banamukira area of North Kivu, are receiving medical treatment and have also been provided psycho-social care, the spokesperson of the Secretary-General told reporters in New York.
Perpetrators of the attack are said to be insurgents loyal to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group of ethnic Hutu fighters linked to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and their accomplices believed to be members of a local militia known as the Mai-Mai Cheka.
The UN mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, has a military company based at Kibua, some 30 kilometres east of the scene of the attack, but the assailants blocked the road and prevented villagers from reaching the nearest communication point at the time the crimes were committed.
According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), more than 8,000 women were raped by warring factions last year in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu.
Although members of the FDLR, which who have been active in eastern DRC since 1994, are thought to be responsible for most of the rapes, soldiers serving in the national army have also been implicated in sexual abuse in North and South Kivu provinces, according to UN experts.
In many cases, women are raped when they leave their villages or camps to collect firewood, water and other essentials.