June 30 (UPI) -- A United Nations agency called on authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Tuesday to protect civilians and hold people responsible for a wave of attacks by armed groups in the eastern region of the African country.
The U.N. Refugee Agency said that in the past eight weeks officials have learned of multiple attacks against refugee displacement sites and villages, mostly in the Djugu Territory in Ituri, in the Fizi and Mwenga territories in the South Kivu province, and Masisi and Rutshuru territories in North Kivu.
The agency said more than a million people have been displaced in the region over the past six months.
"We are calling on the authorities to strengthen the presence of police, military forces with the support of the U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to improve the security situation and hold the perpetrators accountable," the agency said in a statement.
"DRC has one of the highest rates of internal displacement in the world. Over 5 million people have been uprooted by insecurity within the country's borders, while nearly a million Congolese have sought safety in neighboring countries as refugees," the agency said.
The report said women and girls were most at risk in the attacks as they faced sexual and other gender-based assaults and abuses. The agency has received more than 390 reports of sexual violence in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu provinces in the past several months. Armed groups were blamed for most of the assaults.
The Congo has also suffered from one of the world's deadliest outbreaks of Ebola. The World Health Organization declared this month the outbreak was over, but not before it killed 2,280 residents over two years.