MSF treats hundreds of Congo displacement camp sex crime victims.


Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF), a medical charity, reported on Tuesday that in the last two weeks, they have treated 670 women in displacement camps in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo for sexual violence, an average of 48 new victims per day.

Camps near Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, have housed approximately 600,000 people fleeing rebel conflict in their hometowns.

According to MSF, the majority of the victims were attacked while seeking food or wood outside of the camps.

MSF reported that armed men attacked more than half of the victims in Rusayo, Bulengo, and Kanyaruchinya.

“For months, our teams have been treating a high number of cases, but it has never reached the catastrophic scale of recent weeks,” said Jason Rizzo, MSF’s emergency coordinator in North Kivu province.

“Our data only reflects people who arrive at our facilities,” he said, “so it’s probably underestimated.”

Under the condition of anonymity, a member of another humanitarian organization’s staff expressed concern to the Congolese government about reports of displaced people being forced into prostitution by army officers and local authorities, as well as reports of rapes allegedly committed by military and allied proxy groups.

Lieutenant General Constant Ndima, the military governor of North Kivu province, admitted that he could “not rule out” the possibility that service members had engaged in sexual misconduct.

According to the victims, the perpetrators were armed. He told Reuters, “As you know, armed groups are currently scattered around Goma.” In the meantime, authorities were investigating the situation.

When asked to comment on the allegations, North Kivu province army spokesperson Colonel Guillaume Ndjike said, “Let’s wait for the experts’ work to be completed.”

The military has been in charge of North Kivu and the neighboring Ituri province since the Congolese government declared a state of siege two years ago in response to worsening violence.

Rape has been widely documented as a weapon of war used by armed groups in eastern Congo, where dozens of militias are active. Tensions have been building and erupting intermittently since the end of two regional wars in 1996 and 2003.

The recent displacement in North Kivu province is largely due to fighting between the Congolese army and the M23, an ethnic Tutsi-led rebel group.


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