A UN probe into human rights violations in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backrounder] found on Tuesday that at least 126 people were raped and at least two civilians were killed during recent violence in the region. The probe focused on alleged human rights violations [UN News Centre report] that occurred between November 20 and November 30 in the town of Minova in the province of North Kivu, which the rebel group 23 March Movement (M23) [JURIST news archive] occupied on November 19. According to the probe, both M23 rebels and DRC soldiers were responsible for the rapes and other violence that occurred in Minova last month. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) [official website] estimated that nearly 400 women and girls have been sexually assaulted during recent fighting in North Kivu. The UN has urged all sides of the DRC conflict to refrain from harming civilians. A UN report detailing the findings of the probe is scheduled to be released in January.
The UN has been increasingly concerned about the actions of M23 against civilians over the past several months. Last month the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] voiced concern [JURIST report] for Congolese civilians displaced by fighting in North Kivu. Earlier in November UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] also expressed concern [JURIST report] for civilians in Eastern DRC caught in the continued fighting between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and M23. This was a concern she had previously voiced in June [JURIST report], stating that civilians have been in heightened danger since the fighting began. In an emergency meeting on Saturday, the UN Security Council [official website] reiterated its condemnation of M23 [JURIST report] after a series of guerrilla attacks that displaced 4,000 civilians. It called for an end to all support for the rebel group and demanded that M23 end its attacks. The Security Council had previously condemned M23 [JURIST report] in early August.