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U.N.: Congolese peace not about conflict

Oct. 18, 2010 at 12:31 PM   |   Comments

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- Military strategies aren't enough to bring an end to violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a U.N. representative said.

Roger Meece, the U.N. special envoy to the Congo, told members of the U.N. Security Council that the country needed its own independent military, justice system and police force to maintain stability.

His concerns follow reports of mass rapes in the Congo allegedly committed by members of the Congolese Mai Mai militia and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. special envoy for sexual violence and conflict, told the U.N. Security Council last week that members of the Congolese military may have been involved in the atrocities.

A U.N. human rights team found that more than 300 civilians were raped in the Congo by militants July 30-Aug. 2. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the area deflected criticism that it ignored warnings that surfaced days before the rapes occurred some 20 miles from their base.

Meece told the Security Council that the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Congo, known by its French acronym MONUSCO, was overstretched.

"In this vast area, larger than the size of Afghanistan, it is not possible for MONUSCO to ensure full protection for all civilians," he was quoted by the United Nations' news service as saying.

Hundreds of victims of rape took to the streets in the Congo during the weekend protesting the use of sex as a weapon of war, CNN reported. More than 15,000 women were raped in eastern Congo last year.

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