Post link 30 December 2014, 21:37
DECEMBER 16, 2014
hrw.org


Army, UN Should Protect Civilians in Beni

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/scale-300x/media/images/photographs/2014AFR_DRC_Beni_Attacks.jpg
Paluku Waitswalo, 65, was attacked by unidentified fighters with machetes near Maymoya village in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo on October 6, 2014.
© 2014 Dearbhla Glynn


Large-scale rebel attacks occurring nearly weekly have terrorized residents of Beni and left them uncertain where to seek safety. UN and Congolese forces need to urgently coordinate their efforts and improve protection of civilians in Beni.

Ida Sawyer, senior Congo researcher


(Goma) – Unidentified rebel fighters have killed at least 184 civilians and wounded many others in attacks on villages in Beni territory in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since October 2014. Such killings amount to war crimes.

Victims and witnesses described to Human Rights Watch brutal attacks in which rebel fighters methodically hacked and shot civilians to death with axes, machetes, and firearms.

“Large-scale rebel attacks occurring nearly weekly have terrorized residents of Beni and left them uncertain where to seek safety,” said Ida Sawyer, senior Congo researcher. “UN and Congolese forces need to urgently coordinate their efforts and improve protection of civilians in Beni.”

http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/scale-300x/media/images/photographs/2014AFR_DRC_Beni_Attacks_2.jpg
The body of Jean Pierre Paluku Muvungu, 38, who was killed by unidentified rebels with machetes on October 2, 2014, in Mukoko village in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo.
© 2014 Dearbhla Glynn


Senior United Nations and Congolese army officials say they believe the recent attacks were carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan-led Islamist rebel group that has been active in Beni territory since 1996. Some officials say the ADF may be acting together with fighters from other armed groups. UN and Congolese officials should further investigate the identity of the attackers and those who support them.

ADF fighters, including Ugandans and Congolese, have been responsible for scores of kidnappings in recent years. Civilians who had earlier been held in ADF camps said they saw deaths by crucifixion, executions of those trying to escape, and people with mouths sewn shut for allegedly lying to their captors. Some captives accused of “misbehaving” were held in holes or in a casket lined with nails for days or more than a week. The attackers also raped women and forced them to be their “wives.”

In January, the Congolese army officially opened a new phase of military operations against the ADF with some limited logistical support from the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO, and its Intervention Brigade, a 3,000-strong force within MONUSCO created in mid-2013 to carry out military operations against armed groups.

The latest wave of attacks began several months after the Congolese army pushed the ADF out of their main bases. In recent months, MONUSCO has significantly increased its presence in the Beni area in an attempt to better protect civilians.

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Some witnesses described getting no response or a delayed reaction when they asked the army for protection. UN officials said that the army has resisted its attempts at coordination to protect civilians and has blocked UN troops from carrying out patrols in certain areas. The Congolese government should ensure that UN troops and UN human rights monitors are given immediate and unrestricted access to all areas where attacks have taken place or where civilians might be at risk, as per MONUSCO’s Chapter VII mandate under the UN Charter, which authorizes UN troops to take military or non-military action to protect civilians.

During two research missions to Beni territory in November and through interviews with over 70 victims and witnesses to attacks and others, Human Rights Watch confirmed the killing of at least 184 people during attacks between October 5 and December 6 in the Boykene neighborhood of the town of Beni and in the villages of Linzosisene, Oicha, Ngadi, Kadou, Erengeti, Ondoto, Kambi ya Chui, Manzati, Tepiomba, Vemba, Ahili, and Manzanzaba. It is likely that the actual number of people killed during these attacks is significantly higher. Congolese human rights activists have documented the killings of over 230 civilians in the Beni area since early October.

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