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UN envoy warns of spiralling DRC conflict

By Neelam Rahim

The world organization envoy within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has warned that fighting within the east of the country could spiral out of control amid reports of grave rights abuses within the region’s restive provinces.

A recent flare-up of heavy fighting has revived decades-old animosities between the governments of DRC and neighbouring Rwanda, with the previous blaming the latter for a resurgence of a fighter group called “M23”.

Rwanda has denied backing the rebels. “Should the M23 continue its well-coordinated attacks against FARDC and MONUSCO with increasing conventional capabilities, the Mission may find itself confronted by a threat that goes beyond its current capabilities,” UN envoy Bintou Keita told the global organization council on Wednesday, touching on Congolese and UN forces.

Several geographic area countries agreed earlier this month to form a regional force to deploy within the eastern DRC to assist end violence within the volatile region.

Keita emphasized the necessity for “coordination” with the world organization Stabilization, mission and clarifying roles and responsibilities relevant to protecting civilians during future operations.

Meanwhile, the rights group Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development (SOFEPADI) told the council that girls were being subjected to severe human rights abuses by fighter groups.

At the session, SOFEPADI President Julien Lusseng shared the story of a Congolese woman twice kidnapped by fighters, repeatedly raped and compelled to cook and eat human flesh. For the primary time ever, the girl was abducted by soldiers of the armed group CODECO, whom she saw slitting the throat of a person.

“They took out his entrails, and he asked me to cook for them. They brought me two pots of water to cook the remainder of the meal. Then they fed human flesh to any or all the prisoners,” Lusheng told the council, narrating the woman’s story.

Lucenz said the lady was released after some days. Still, while trying to return home, she was abducted by another combat group, which she didn’t recognize and whose members repeatedly raped her.

The Congolese army has been locked in heavy fighting since late May, with one of the foremost notorious rebel groups, the M23, launching its most sustained offensive since the 2012-2013 attack, which seized vast areas of the region. This month, the group captured a serious trading city in eastern DRC.


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