USA - US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has expressed ‘deep concern’ over reports of the mass rape of women and children in the DRC by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and Congolese Mai-Mai militias.
This follows recent reports that the rebels looted villages and gang-raped nearly 180 women and some children in a series of attacks between July 30 and August 3, in the Walikale region of eastern DRC’s North Kivu Province.
The atrocities are said to be on the rise.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Clinton, who visited eastern DRC last year, said that her thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.
“The United States will do everything we can to work with the UN and the DRC government to hold the perpetrators of these acts accountable, and to create a safe environment for women, girls, and all civilians,” Clinton remarked.
The US government has categorised the FDLR as a terrorist organization.
The FDLR, which Clinton described as “an armed, illegal rebel group that has terrorized eastern Congo for over a decade”, are remnants of the masterminds of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in Rwanda which claimed over one million people.
Clinton urged the international community to build on previous measures, with specific steps to protect local populations against sexual and gender-based violence and bring to justice those who commit such atrocities.
The Belgian government has demanded for an investigation into how nearly 200 women and young children were gang-raped near government and UN military bases.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has already dispatched two top aides to eastern DRC to investigate the atrocities.
The UN mission in DRC (MONUSCO) reportedly did not know about the rebel attack and mass rape in Walikale until more than a week after.
Roger Meece, the UN Special Envoy to the DRC, also acknowledged this on Wednesday, and announced plans to improve communications and prevent any repetition of sexual violence.
International Medical Corps (IMC), an aid group which first revealed the incident, has said a MONUSCO base was only 10kms away.