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UN Security Council slams mass rapes in eastern DRC

English.news.cn   2010-09-08 06:51:17 FeedbackPrintRSS

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Tuesday strongly condemned the mass rapes in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and urged the DRC government to immediately open a probe into the tragedy and bring the perpetrators to justice at an early date.

The condemnation was contained in a statement read to the press here by Turkish UN ambassador, Ertugrul Apakan, who holds the rotating Security Council presidency for September.

"We reiterate our strong condemnation of the tragic events which occurred in Walikale territory, beginning in late July and the following weeks," the Council president said. "We recall the firm commitment of the Security Council in the fight against impunity in particular for sexual violence crimes."

"We call upon all parties to cease immediately violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in particularly sexual violence," Apakan said.

"We urge the government of the DRC to immediately launch an inquiry, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of such attacks," he said. "We urge the UN to take all the necessary measures to improve efficiency to help prevent and respond to such attacks to better coordinate its actions."

"Finally, we decided to remain active in this matter and will continue to discuss possible steps that can be taken to ensure a more effective protection of civilians, particularly women and children in the DRC," the president added.

Last week, the UN peacekeeping force in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, found at least 242 women had been raped over several days from late July to early August in the town of Luvungi in North Kivu province in the eastern part of the DRC.

The statement was issued at the end of the Security Council meeting, at which Atul Khare, the UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, and Margot Wallstrom, the UN secretary- general's special representative on sexual violence in conflict, briefed the 15-nation Council on the mass rapes in the eastern DRC.

In their briefings to the Security Council earlier on Tuesday, both Khare and Wallstrom urged the Security Council to consider sanctions against those who were behind the mass rapes in the eastern DRC.

In his briefing, Khare said that the UN's actions "were not adequate" in preventing the mass rapes of women and children in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

"While the primary responsibility for protection of civilians lies with the state, its national army and police force, clearly we have also failed. Our actions were not adequate, resulting in unacceptable brutalization of the population of villages in the area," he said.

With mass rapes of at least 240 women and children in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from late July to mid-August, Wasstrom called for "collective responsibility " in the UN's failure to prevent the brutal sexual attacks in the war-torn African country.

"At this moment, we are all compelled to look in the mirror and face our collective responsibility for our inability to prevent the mass rapes in Kibua," Wallstrom told the UN Security Council in an open meeting on the DRC.

Upon hearing the report of the mass rapes, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent Khare to the DRC from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2. for the investigation into the brutal attacks that took place in July and August.

"While the primary responsibility for protection of civilians lies with the state, its national army and police force, clearly we have also failed. Our actions were not adequate, resulting in unacceptable brutalization of the population of villages in the area," he said.

The rapes occurred near a base of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) located in the North Kivu province. MONUSCO's delayed response to and its previous claim that it had been unaware of the attacks until Aug. 12, have come under question.

In a press release issued late Tuesday, the UN confirmed that on July 30 MONUSCO was notified by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) that FDLR combatants had taken control of the town of Mpofi (52 kilometers east of Walikale) and reportedly raped one woman.

According to Khare, "on Aug. 5, MONUSCO received information indicating that 15 rape victims had sought medical attention at the International Medical Corps (IMC) supported health center. At that time, the perpetrators had already left the 13 villages they had besieged."

"It is of paramount importance that all of us learn from this experience," Khare told reporters at the end of the closed-door Security Council meeting. "We cannot turn the clock back for the poor 242 victims in the Kabula area."

"What we can do is to ensure that there is no reason to turn the clock back in the future," he added.

Also speaking to the reporters here, U.S. UN Ambassador Susan Rice said that the Security Council had "a very helpful and constructive discussion" on the issue of the mass rapes in the DRC.

"We've looked into whether or not lessons that have been learned in the Congo can be induced in another way or if the lessons learned in the DRC can be applied elsewhere where sexual violence occurs and violence against civilians is of grave concern, and were protection of civilians is core to the mandate of the United Nations," Rice said.

"The Council is going to be very active in pursuing this," she said. "We look forward to pursuing this with vigor."

 

Editor: yan
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