[JURIST] Increasing violence in the Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has become more ethnic-based, according to a report released [press release] Friday by a team of UN human rights investigators. The UN team based their findings on the interviews of 96 people who have fled the violent region, confirming that over the course of three months around 251 people were victims with an alarming number of child killings. Violence in the region broke out in August 2016 with multiple ethnic groups forming militias against the government. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile], who called for [JURIST report] the investigation in June, stated in the release of the report:
Survivors have spoken of hearing the screams of people being burned alive, of seeing loved ones chased and cut down, of themselves fleeing in terror. Such bloodletting is all the more horrifying because we found indications that people are increasingly being targeted because of their ethnic group.Their accounts should serve as a grave warning to the Government of the DRC to act now to prevent such violence from tipping into wider ethnic cleansing...I call on the Government to take all necessary measures to fulfil its primary obligation to protect people from all ethnic backgrounds in the greater Kasai area.The High Commissioner also stressed the identification and prosecution of the militias responsible for the alleged ethnic violence.
Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, the leader of a militia in the DRC, turned himself in [JURIST report] to UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo in July. In May the President of the DRC's electoral commission warned [JURIST report] that the presidential election may be postponed due to sectarian violence. In April a spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency said [JURIST report] that more than 11,000 refugees from the Kasai province had escaped to Angola due to violence in their province. The top prosecutor at the International Criminal Court released a statement [JURIST report] in April alleging that recent acts of violence in the DRC could amount to war crimes. In March UN Secretary-General António Guterres confirmed [JURIST report] that the remains of two human rights investigators were found in the DRC.