Renewed violence at displaced Congolese

Feb. 4, 2012 at 10:32 AM
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GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The United Nations said forces in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been torturing and killing displaced Congolese in North Kivu.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said armed groups have been raiding camps for internally displaced people in North Kivu and putting civilians at risk since late 2011, Voice of America reported Friday.

There are nearly 79,000 displaced Congolese living in 31 camps in North Kivu.

"Displaced Congolese are constantly threatened by various groups and militias who accuse them of collaborating with one or another armed group," said UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards. "On [Dec. 13] last year, seven displaced people were beaten to death because they had refused to take part in forced labor imposed by the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda. UNHCR has also received reports of IDPs being lashed and other forms of torture."

The FDLR is made up of Hutu commanders and others responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, during which an estimated 800,000 people, predominantly ethnic Tutsis, were killed.

The group has allegedly been attacking, killing, raping and pillaging villages in eastern Congo for nearly 18 years.

"Ongoing violence is also hindering humanitarian access to the camps and preventing aid workers from protecting and assisting the displaced," added Edwards. "Only eight [internally displaced people] camps out of 31 are accessible to humanitarian workers without military escort. UNHCR calls on all parties to respect the civilian character of [internally displaced people] camps in North Kivu. We are appealing to provincial authorities to increase security in and around the camps."

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