- Human Rights Watch has called on the UN Security Council to take a decisive action towards the protection of civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo from further atrocities by government and rebel forces.
In the organisation’s 183 pages report, on atrocities perpetrated on civilians, it has detailed the deliberate killing of more than 1,400 civilians between January and September 2009 during two successive Congolese army operations against a Rwandan Hutu militia, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, Anneke Van Woudenberg said continued killing and rape by all sides in eastern Congo shows that the UN Security Council needs a new approach to protect civilians.
“The Security Council should send a group of experts to Congo to kick-start a serious civilian protection plan,” official said.
Congolese army soldiers and FDLR rebel combatants have been accused of civilians attacks in retaliation for allegedly being collaborators of any of the warring groups.
The organisation has recommended that immediate creation and deployment of a civilian protection expert group to put forward specific measures to improve strategies to protect civilians in eastern Congo.
It has also urged the blue helmets in Congo to immediately cease all support to the current military operation until clear procedures and the means to implement and evaluate them are put in place to prevent violations of international humanitarian law.
It further called for all commanders with known records of human rights abuse to be removed from operational responsibilities, stating that the procedures and conditions should be made public.
Over the first nine months of 2009, the UN recorded over 7,500 cases of sexual violence against women and girls across North and South Kivu in eastern Congo.
On November 11, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1894, which restates the council's pledge to respond to situations of armed conflict where civilians are being targeted, including through the consideration of appropriate measures at the Security Council's disposal.
The Security Council is scheduled to vote on a renewal of the mandate of MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, on 21 December.
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