[JURIST] The head of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Saturday strongly condemned [press release] an outbreak of deadly violence in the eastern areas of the DRC, sparked by a confrontation over cattle. The UN deployed peacekeepers to the area to work alongside local authorities to help restore calm. According to the UN Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) [official website], the inter-ethnic clash "caused many casualties," killing at least 30 people and leaving 15 wounded. The cattle rustling incident took place Friday night between the Bafuliru and Barundi/Banyamulenge communities. "This violence is unacceptable and must be halted immediately," said Mission chief Martin Kobler. Kobler noted that peacekeepers have evacuated the injured to health centers, which MONUSCO and Congalese forces, known by the French acronym FARDC, are supporting local authorities to restore calm. According to the UN, arrangements are being made to "protect local populations" with the deployment of peacekeepers in the town of Mutarule to "strengthen the locally-based FARDC [troops]."
The DRC continues to draw criticism for its human rights record. Last month a military court for the DRC convicted [JURIST report] 39 soldiers charged with raping more than 130 women in the province of South Kivu. Another 24 soldiers were convicted of looting. In April a coalition of 146 Congolese and international human rights organizations released a joint declaration urging the DRC to create new mechanisms in its national justice system [JURIST report] for prosecuting war crimes. In October Kobler condemned [JURIST report] a series of attacks perpetrated by the Mayi-Mayi Cheka, which resulted in the deaths of 34 civilians, including 20 children, in the eastern region of the DRC. In September Navi Pillay welcomed [JURIST report] the establishment of a national human rights commission in the DRC but said that rights abuses continue in the east. The report came on the heels of the UN's call to diminish institutionalized impunity [JURIST report] in the war-torn nation.