Britain pulls staff out of eastern DRC

LONDON, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The British government said Thursday it pulled its diplomatic staff out of parts of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo because of increased violence.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in DRC, known by its French initials MONUSCO, is fighting alongside Congolese forces as they battle the March 23 Movement in the country's eastern provinces.


M23 seized control over Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu province, last year. Fighting rekindled and MONUSCO said civilians and peacekeepers were killed during conflict with M23 earlier this week.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said Thursday it was advising against all travel to eastern parts of DRC.

"U.K. government staff have left Goma, and our ability to offer consular assistance is extremely limited," it said in a statement Thursday. "The security situation in Goma, and in the wider area of eastern DRC, remains extremely volatile"

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri expressed concern about the level of violence in DRC following her week-long tour of the country.

"People there told me about their vulnerability, their tenuous socio-economic situation and the security constraints due to the activities of armed groups," she said in a statement.


She added she was "alarmed" by the scale of sexual violence carried out "mainly" by armed groups. Civilians and Congolese security forces were also suspected of committing acts of sexual violence during recent fighting.

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