A joint United Nations assessment mission has confirmed that Government troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) committed mass rape and acts of pillaging in several remote villages in the country’s east last month.
Residents of Nyakiele in the province of South Kivu told UN staff that troops serving with the Congolese armed forces, known as the FARDC, raped at least 121 women and subjected villagers to cruel and degrading treatment during the attacks, which took place around 11 June.
The troops were led by a former commander of the rebel Mayi Mayi group, who reportedly deserted from an integration camp of the FARDC.
The troops – who attacked at least one other village in the area, which is covered in thick forest – also stole the equivalent of about $90,000 in cash and gold, as well as 157 goats, and forced some of the villagers to transport the looted goods for them.
An assessment team comprising UN human rights and humanitarian officials, as well as provincial authorities and a staff from a non-governmental organization (NGO), travelled to Nyakiele after reports emerged of the attacks.
Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters today in Geneva that more in-depth investigations will now take place to further verify the details and identify the perpetrators.
He voiced outrage at the attacks, echoing the recent remarks of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström.