Some 200 women gang-raped near Congo UN base

Will F Cragin of the International Medical Corps said yesterday that aid and UN workers knew rebels had occupied Luvungi town and surrounding villages in eastern Congo the day after the attack began on July 30.

More than three weeks later, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo has issued no statement about the atrocities and said yesterday it still is investigating.
Cragin told The Associated Press by telephone that his organization was only able to get into the town, which he said is about 16 kilometers from a UN military camp, after rebels ended their brutal spree of raping and looting and withdrew of their own accord on August 4.

At UN headquarters in New York, spokesman Martin Nesirky said yesterday that a UN Joint Human Rights team verified allegations of the rape of at least 154 women by combatants from the Rwandan rebel FDLR group and Congolese Mai-Mai rebels in the village of Bunangiri.

He said the victims are receiving medical and psycho-social care.
Nesirky said the UN peacekeeping mission has a military company operating base in Kibua, some 30 kilometers east of the village, but he said FDLR attackers blocked the road and prevented villagers from reaching the nearest communication point.
Civil society leader Charles Masudi Kisa said there were only about 25 peacekeepers and that they did what they could against some 200 to 400 rebels who occupied the town of about 2,200 people and five nearby villages.

"When the peacekeepers approached a village, the rebels would run into the forest, but then the Blue Helmets had to move on to another area, and the rebels would just return," Masudi said.

There was no fighting and no deaths, Cragin said, just "lots of pillaging and the systematic raping of women."

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