Rape, looting reported in eastern DRC

Dec. 5, 2012 at 11:30 AM

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The United Nations expressed concern for the safety of those in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo displaced by fighting amid reports of heavy looting.

The United Nations welcomed a late-November decision by the March 23 rebel movement to pull out of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. M23 is comprised of Tutsi rebels and is suspected of committing crimes during its rebellion. It allegedly has the support of the Rwanda government, an allegation Kigali denies.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said there were at least six unconfirmed reports of rape and heavy looting in areas housing people displaced by fighting in Goma.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said armed gangs were seen near refugee camps.

"The armed men then searched tents, stealing money, mobile phones and food that had been handed out earlier by the World Food Program," he said in a statement.

Representatives from the DRC government gathered in neighboring Uganda said formal discussions are expected with M23 rebels in a matter of days. The movement was formed early this year in response to perceived violations of a peace deal in DRC.

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