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Violence the new normal in DRC, envoy says

July 26, 2013 at 12:55 PM   |   Comments

UNITED NATIONS, July 26 (UPI) -- Violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has become the "accepted normal" because of the lack of attention, envoy Mary Robinson said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chaired a meeting on security in the Great Lakes region of Africa at the U.N. Security Council, where the United States holds the rotating presidency of the 12-member body for July.

Kerry last month appointed former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., to serve as a special envoy for the Great Lakes region, which includes trouble spots such as Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Uganda rebels rekindled conflict in the DRC side of the shared border this month. The Rwanda government, meanwhile, was accused of backing the March 23 Movement fighting against government forces in eastern DRC.

"For far, far too long, far too many lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the broader Great Lakes region have been ravaged by targeted, grotesque violence," he said Thursday before the Security Council.

The Security Council in March authorized a special brigade tasked with neutralizing armed groups by force if necessary. Renewed rebel conflict in eastern DRC coincided with the March decision.

Robinson, former Irish president and U.N. special envoy to the Great Lakes region, said she was frustrated with the general lack of urgency surrounding conflict in DRC.

"Not a day goes by without a report of killings, rape, sexual assault and displacement of people in eastern DRC," she told the Security Council. "What strikes me is the lack of outrage and horrors at this daily toll. It has become the accepted normal."

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