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DR CONGO: UN MISSION CHIEF CONCERNED OVER VIOLENCE IN TROUBLED NORTH KIVU

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The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today voiced deep concern over continuing violence in the eastern province of North Kivu, where the Government is investigating a series of recent killings.

Roger Meece, the Special Representative of the Secretary General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), expressed his support for the Government's intention to investigate the violence and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The presence of various warring groups has wreaked havoc in North Kivu over the past decade, heightening insecurity and forced thousands of people to flee their homes. UN aid workers recently estimated that 890,000 people are internally displaced in the province.

In late July and early August members of armed groups raped hundreds of people in North Kivu, including more than two dozen children.

Last week, the Security Council urged the Government to take “swift and fair” action to bring the perpetrators of the rapes to justice, to assist victims of sexual abuse, and to support efforts by civil society groups and others to prevent further violence.

In the wake of the rapes, MONUSCO launched Operation Shop Window to enhance the protection of civilians in the areas where the sexual violence occurred.

The mission has reported that the operation has resulted in the arrests of some suspected human rights abusers and a return of many internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes.