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U.N. rights envoy headed to DRC

Aug. 19, 2013 at 1:05 PM

GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- The United Nations announced Monday it was sending a rights envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo to assess the conditions in the east of the country.

UNICEF estimates violence in eastern DRC has forced more than 66,000 people, half of whom are children, to flee the country to Uganda. Rebels with the March 23 Movement seized parts of the country last year, but withdrew under the eye of U.N. peacekeepers.

M23 rebel commander Bosco Ntganda turned himself into the International Criminal Court in April to face war crimes charges. The movement is accused of using rape as a weapon of war and of conscripting child soldiers.

The United Nations said Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri is slated to visited DRC for a six-day visit beginning Thursday.

"(She) will visit the east of the DRC to evaluate the human rights situation there and the work undertaken by the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office, in particular with regard to the reinforced deployment of the U.N. Stabilization Mission," her office said in a statement.

An estimated 2.6 million people are internally displaced and 6.4 million more are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance in the country.

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