3300 dead since central Congo conflict in August

Posted June 21, 2017

The Human Rights Council is expected to vote this week on a proposal to authorize an independent investigation into the violence in Congo's Kasai region, including the murder of two United Nations experts earlier this year. Similar attacks appear to have occurred in more than 20 villages in Kamonya over the past two months, and numerous victims and witnesses said the militia is organised and armed by local authorities.

Fighting between security forces and militia members in central Democratic Republic of Congo killed more than 3,300 people since October, the country's Catholic Church said, as the government rejected a call by the United Nations for an global investigation.

He also said that the attacks on civilians were widespread and apparently planned.

Most concerning, the High Commissioner said, was the arming of a militia - the Bana Mura - allegedly to support authorities in fighting the Kamuina Nsapu, and which has carried out horrific attacks against civilians from the Luba and Lulua ethnic groups.

"My team saw children as young as 2 whose limbs had been chopped off; many babies had machete wounds and severe burns", he said in his report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The report said the army destroyed 10 villages as it sought to stamp out an insurrection and accused the militia of killing hundreds of people, destroying four villages and attacking church property in a campaign to drive out government troops.

Some 1.3 million internally displaced people have fled this landscape of horror.

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Violence flared up in the DRC's Kasai regions in August 2016, when a customary chief was killed by Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC), as DRC's armed forces are known.

The UN Human Rights Council will decide this week whether to go ahead with an investigation into the violence in Kasai. "Their killings must also be fully investigated, and I remain in close touch with their families", he stressed.

Congolese Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba rejected the call for an worldwide investigation, saying it would be unacceptable to launch such an investigation without including Congolese officials.

The UN Human Rights Council is likely to vote this week on whether to authorize such an investigation into violence that has killed hundreds in central Congo since last August, including two UN experts who were murdered earlier this year. Hussein is calling for an independent global investigation.

He asked the rights council to authorise an worldwide investigation as progress in Congolese investigations "has clearly been insufficient in view of the massive scale and horrific nature of the crimes that have taken place and, sadly, continue".

"By bringing justice to the Kasais we may be able to prevent further crimes elsewhere in the DRC", he added.