As full-scale fighting between the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and a rebellion, called M23, intensifies in the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern province of North Kivu, civilians fleeing the area report widespread rape and sexual violence by the rebels.
The M23 movement began in April by a group of mutineers from the Congolese army who had been loyal to former leader of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), Bosco Ntaganda. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Ntaganda for committing various war crimes, including sexual violence.
The CNDP and Ntaganda's forces had been integrated into the Congolese army after signing a peace agreement with the government. The current mutiny highlights the failure of the demobilization and integration efforts, as well as the continuing economic, political, and social tensions in Eastern Congo.
A recent report commissioned by the United Nations Group of Experts to the Security Council, further accuses the government of Rwanda for providing support to the rebellion. UN peacekeepers have been redeployed to North Kivu's capital of Goma to protect civilians.
Since April, the rebellion has forced 200 000 people to flee their homes, and 20 000 to cross the border to Rwanda and Uganda. Civilians recount widespread murder, looting, and sexual violence.
Despite war formerly ending with a peace agreement almost a decade ago, the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to be embroiled in conflict. Rape and gender violence has been marked by extreme brutality, and the country has received the unwelcome distinction as the rape capital of the world. Learn more about the Democratic Republic of Congo's conflict and gender violence.
* Update: This post has been modified to remove a reference stating that Bosco Ntaganda is leading the M23 rebellion. The leader of the M23 is Colonel Sultani Makenga.
Nord-Kivu : des déserteurs des FARDC créent un mouvement politico-militaire dénommé M23, Radio Okapi, 9 May 2012.
Bons baisers du Kivu, trou noir de l’information, Arrêt sur images, 4 June 2012.
A view from Goma, Warscapes, 9 June 2012.
Is the U.S. backing a controversial U.N. report to shield Rwanda? Foreign Policy – Turtle Bay, 20 June 2012.
So how do we help the Congo? Congo Siasa, 9 July 2012.
Fleeing Congolese refugees allege rape and killings, New Vision, 10 July 2012.
DR Congo conflict: UN “to protect Goma from rebels”, BBC News, 11 July 2012.