KIGALI - THE United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping, Atul Khare, has admitted that UN peacekeepers failed the rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Speaking on BBC on Wednesday, Khare who investigated the alleged rapes by the FDLR in July and August said that that he would recommend that the UN Security Council impose targeted sanctions against the FDLR.
“While the primary responsibility for protection of civilians lies with the state, its national army and police force, clearly we have also failed,” Khare said.
“Our actions were not adequate, resulting in unacceptable brutalization of the population of the villages in the area. We must do better.”
“I would recommend for consideration by the (Security) Council, imposition of targeted sanctions on the leaders of the FDLR, both within and outside the country, if a chain of command is proven,” he said.
Khare has also told the Security Council that contrary to what was earlier believed, the scale of systematic rape by the rebels was far worse than feared.
“A concerted response from the government and the international community is needed to maintain pressure on the perpetrators of these rapes and to bring them to justice,” he told the BBC.
Khare told the Security Council that up to 500 women and children were now believed to have been raped in recent weeks, and he called for the prosecution of the FDLR and Mai-Mai militia, who are blamed for the attacks.
Earlier, 242 rapes had been reported in and around Luvungi, a village not far from a UN peacekeepers’ camp, in the Walikale region of North Kivu Province. However, during his investigative mission to eastern DRC, Khare says 260 more rapes had come to light in the Uvira area and other regions of North and South Kivu.
Khare and the UN’s special envoy on sexual violence, Margot Wallstrom, suggested that the FDLR leaders might be among those responsible for organising the rapes.