UN was unaware of Congo mass rapes, says envoy
Thursday 26 August 2010
The top UN envoy in Congo said two peacekeeping patrols were not informed by villagers that mass rapes were taking place and the United Nations is now working to improve communications and prevent any recurrence.
Roger Meece, the new UN special representative, said peacekeepers did not learn about the "horrific" rapes of at least 154 Congolese civilians for nearly two weeks, which showed that the force's actions to protect civilians were insufficient and need to be improved.
He said one idea being pursued was to have villages report to the UN's forward operating base at Kibua every day.
If the force did not receive a report, he said, it would assume there was a problem and send a patrol to investigate.
Mr Meece gave the most detailed account of the UN's actions since Monday's report that Rwandan and Congolese rebels gang-raped nearly 200 women and some baby boys over four days not far from Kibua in eastern Congo's mining district.
He spoke to reporters at UN headquarters by videoconference from Goma in eastern Congo.
Will F. Cragin of the International Medical Corps said on Monday that aid and UN workers knew rebels had occupied Luvungi town and surrounding villages the day after the attack began on July 30.
He said his organisation was only able to get into the town after rebels ended their brutal spree of raping and looting and withdrew of their own accord on August 4.
The UN was not made aware of the attacks until more than a week later, despite the fact that UN patrols had been in Luvungi twice after the attacks began.
Pressed on why two UN patrols learned nothing about the mass rapes, Mr Meece said he could only speculate, noting that communication is always a problem in Congo.
"There is, of course, a significant amount of cultural baggage ... associated with rapes in this area, as well as elsewhere." he said.
"Is it conceivable that the local villagers were afraid of reprisals if they reported anything to Monusco? Possible. Is it conceivable that they were ashamed of what has happened in some form? That's possible.
"I can only speculate as to what may have been the reasons, but I know that these can be very powerful in the local society and environment," he said.
According to an American aid worker and a Congolese doctor, the rebels gang-raped nearly 200 women and some baby boys.
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...