UN investigating rapes in DRC unrest
07 December 2012, 12:23
New York - The United Nations is investigating allegations of rapes and other abuses by Democratic Republic of Congo troops as they pulled back from advancing rebels, the UN spokesperson said on Thursday.
The investigation comes amid claims that dozens of women were raped by government forces in the town of Minova in eastern DRC last month.
The Armed Forces of the DRC, known as the FARDC, already faces criticism for the way it collapsed in the face of an advance by rebels from the M23 group which has also been accused of widespread abuses.
The UN mission in the DRC "is investigating reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws alleged to have been committed by FARDC units during operations against the M23 rebel group and has raised concerns with the senior leadership of the FARDC," UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said.
"If allegations are substantiated they are brought to the attention of the DRC government with requests to take corrective measures to prevent the recurrence of such violations and to hold perpetrators accountable," he added.
"Support is suspended or withdrawn if corrective action is not taken in due time," Nesirky said.
The United Nations said on Wednesday that about 70 rapes had been reported in the Minova area by UN investigators, but it has not said who carried out the attacks.
Widespread looting and attacks on civilians were reported by rights groups and other sources when government forces occupied the town for three days in late November. Minova is near the North Kivu provincial capital of Goma and the army withdrew there after losing Goma to the M23.
The M23, which is alleged to receive backing from Rwanda, launched an uprising in April. Last month the rebels ended a relative calm and routed government troops as they took Goma, before withdrawing under an East African brokered ceasefire.
Tensions remain high in the war-blighted region, and both government soldiers and rebels have been accused of civilian killings, rape and looting during the unrest.