Mass rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Summary of a story from Irin Africa, 28.02.11
More than 200 women, men and children have been treated for rape by the Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) since January 2011 in the Fizi region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Kivu.
While large-scale attacks on civilians, in which rape is used as a weapon of war, are a permanent feature of the conflict in eastern DRC, MSF said such repeated large-scale attacks at the same locations were unusual.
The most recent incidents occurred between 12 and 13 February, and 18 and 19 February respectively, involving at least 56 people. Survivors told MSF they were taken hostage, undressed, tied up with ropes and raped. All their belongings were stolen.
Witnesses said the attackers were armed men who appeared to be members of the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération de Rwanda (FDLR), a group founded by ringleaders and other perpetrators of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, which has been holed up in eastern DRC more or less ever since.
MSF says it has provided medical treatment to 200 people since the beginning of January, all of them survivors of sexual violence in the region near Fizi. It has not seen rape on this scale since 2004.
Annemarie Loof, MSF head of mission in South Kivu, said:
“Mass rapes and violent attacks are happening with alarming regularity in this particular part of the Fizi region. We are extremely concerned about the fate of civilians who are being targeted amid the increasing violence and insecurity in this part of eastern DRC.”
Maurizio Giuliano, head of public information at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kinshasa, responded by expressing his concern:
“We condemn the use of gang rape as a weapon of war. This is not about opportunistic rape; rather, it is a strategy. In this kind of attack, it is not only women that are targeted, but their families and the whole community. It is unacceptable.