United Nations

Calls to stop systematic rapes in Congo

The situation for civilians and especially women in the Democratic Republic of Congo has become increasingly difficult as new reports of government forces, there to protect them, also commits mass rapes.

Having just returned to New York after a visit in the DRS Sweden’s former EU commissioner and the United Nation’s newly appointed Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Confligts, Margot Wallström, once again urged the UN Security Council to put this at the top of the list of priorities.

“The possibility that the same communities who were brutalized in July and August by FDLR and Mai Mai elements are now also suffering exactions at the hands of the FARDC troops is unimaginable and unacceptable,” she said.

But she added that some progress had been made and commended police in Paris for arresting Callixte Mbarushimana, one of the leaders for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, last week. Together with the arrests of two other FDLR leaders in Germany earlier this year and the recent arrest of Lieutenant Colonel Mayele from the Mai Mai Cheka rebel group, she said, the world is sending a clear message that there will be consequences for leaders who order or condone mass rapes.

“Rapes will continue so long as consequences are negligible,” she added. “The atrocities that are committed daily against women and children will leave a devastating imprint on the Congo for years to come.”

Eva Lövgren, DRC country director at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, said that it appears as if the number of rapes in the area has gone up. But it is difficult to get accurate statistics and the increase could also be a result of more people feeling comfortable to report the abuse. But it is assumed that the number of unreported cases is many.

This year Sweden gave almost 40 million dollars in humanitarian aid such as healthcare and 30 million to long-term projects such as strengthening the legal system.

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