Some 200 Women Gang-Raped Near Congo UN Base

Michelle Faul, Google News, August 23, 2010

Rwandan and Congolese rebels gang-raped nearly 200 women and some baby boys over four days within miles of a U.N. peacekeepers’ base in an eastern Congo mining district, an American aid worker and a Congolese doctor said Monday.

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At U.N. headquarters in New York, spokesman Martin Nesirky said Monday that a U.N. Joint Human Rights team verified allegations of the rape of at least 154 women by combatants from the Rwandan rebel FDLR group and Congolese Mai-Mai rebels in the village of Bunangiri. He said the victims are receiving medical and psycho-social care.

Nesirky said the U.N. peacekeeping mission has a military company operating base in Kibua, some 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) east of the village, but he said FDLR attackers blocked the road and prevented villagers from reaching the nearest communication point.

Civil society leader Charles Masudi Kisa said there were only about 25 peacekeepers and that they did what they could against some 200 to 400 rebels who occupied the town of about 2,200 people and five nearby villages.

“When the peacekeepers approached a village, the rebels would run into the forest, but then the Blue Helmets had to move on to another area, and the rebels would just return,” Masudi said.

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Four young boys also were raped, said Dr. Kasimbo Charles Kacha, the district medical chief. Masudi said they were babies aged one month, six months, a year and 18 months.

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Survivors said their attackers were from the FDLR that includes perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide who fled across the border to Congo in 1994 and have been terrorizing the population in eastern Congo ever since, according to Cragin. The Rwandans were accompanied by Mai-Mai rebels, he said, quoting survivors.

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Rape as a weapon of war has become shockingly commonplace in eastern Congo, where at least 8,300 rapes were reported last year, according to the United Nations. It is believed that many more rapes go unreported.

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