Wednesday 26 July 2017
(Voice of America 06/23/17)
GENEVA — The United Nations Human Rights Council launched an international investigation on Friday into killings and other atrocities in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 47-member Geneva forum adopted by consensus a resolution brought by African countries which also called on the Kinshasa government to cooperate with the team of international experts. U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has called repeatedly for the inquiry and said on Tuesday that a militia linked to government has committed a string of ethnically-motivated attacks in recent months, including cutting off toddlers' limbs and stabbing pregnant women. Congo's government has been fighting insurgents in Kasai since last August, triggering fears of a wider conflict in the large central African...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/23/17)
DAR ES SALAAM (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Sadick Thenest remembers how his 8-year-old daughter had a narrow brush with death two years ago, when she contracted cholera after drinking contaminated water. “She was so gaunt, weak and had terrible diarrhea,” said the refugee from Burundi. “A slight delay in rushing her to hospital would have meant something else - but with God’s grace she survived.” The father of four, aged 35, is among thousands of refugees grappling with frequent outbreaks of waterborne diseases in the crowded Nyarugusu camp in western Tanzania, due to poor sanitation. “Living in a refugee camp is a constant struggle. You either stick to health rules or contract diseases,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by...
(AFP 06/22/17)
At least seven militants were killed Thursday in clashes with troops involving heavy weapons in a city in Democratic Republic of Congo's restive east, police said. The fighting erupted in the eastern suburbs of Beni, a city in North-Kivu province, with residents hearing gunshots and heavy weapons fire. A spokesman for the country's armed forces (FARDC) told AFP the confrontation started when a new rebel group staged an early-morning attack on two of its positions east of the city, saying the gunmen were thought to be from the Mai-Mai militia. The clashes then moved to the centre of the city, which is home to some 800,000 people, with gunmen taking up positions near police headquarters and the military prosecutor's office...
(Voice of America 06/21/17)
GENEVA — The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called Tuesday for an independent international investigation into human rights violations and abuses committed in the Kasai region of Democratic Republic of Congo. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein made his urgent plea to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Last month, the high commissioner gave Congolese authorities a June 8 deadline to join an investigation with the U.N. to bring the perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in Kasai to justice. The Congolese authorities rebuffed his plea, so he is now making good on his threat to urge the Human Rights Council to deploy an independent investigation.
(Reuters (Eng) 06/21/17)
A change of tone in Angola's relationship with longtime ally Congo has left Congolese President Joseph Kabila more isolated than ever as he clings to power in his vast central African country. Angola, a regional political and military heavyweight, has on several occasions provided vital support for Kabila, who took over as president of Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001 following the assassination of his father. But Luanda is frustrated by Kabila's handling of several crises, including his failure to step aside when his mandate ended last December and a conflict in which refugees have poured across his country's long border into Angola. In December Angola withdrew military trainers it had sent to Congo, where wars at the turn of...
(Voice of America 06/21/17)
WASHINGTON DC — On June 5, Saudi Arabia and its allies, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of funding extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic State. In response, Qatar said it was the victim of a policy of “domination and control” by its larger neighbor and that Saudi Arabia was, in fact, the one responsible for backing extremism. So what is the truth? Fundamentalist strains of Islam, including Saudi-born Salafism and Wahhabism, form the ideological bedrock for most terror groups. According to a study by Leif Wenar of King’s College London based on the Global Terrorism Database, three out of four terror attacks in the last 10 years...
(AFP (eng) 06/20/17)
More than 3,000 people have been killed in eight months of spiralling violence in DR Congo's troubled central region of Kasai, a report by the Roman Catholic church said. According to figures compiled by the church and listed in a report by the papal envoy, a copy of which was seen by AFP on Tuesday, some 3,383 people have died in violence between security forces and a tribal militia. The UN's MONUSCO peacekeeping mission had previously spoken of "more than 400 dead" while about 1.3 million people are estimated to have fled their homes in the Kasai provinces. The papal envoy's note, which was dated June 19, said that 20 villages have been "completely destroyed", 10 of them by the...
(AFP (eng) 06/20/17)
The UN rights chief on Tuesday accused authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo of backing a new militia behind "horrific attacks" in the Kasai provinces, including killing and mutilating hundreds of civilians. "I am appalled by the creation and arming of a militia, the Bana Mura, allegedly to support the authorities in fighting the Kamwina Nsapu (rebels)," Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told the UN Human Rights Council. Over the past two months, the militia had carried out "horrific attacks against civilians from the Luba and Lulua ethnic groups," destroying entire villages, and shooting, burning and hacking to death villagers...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/20/17)
Congolese security forces and a militia fighting them have killed at least 3,383 people in the central Kasai region since October, the Catholic church said on Tuesday, in the most detailed report to date on the violence. Church officials, citing their own sources in the remote territory bordering Angola, said the army had destroyed 10 villages as it sought to stamp out an insurrection. They also accused the Kamuina Nsapu militia of killing hundreds of people, destroying four villages and attacking church property in a campaign to drive out central government troops. No one was immediately available to comment from the militia or Democratic Republic of Congo's army, which has dismissed accusations of excessive force in the past. The clashes...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/20/17)
Democratic Republic of Congo's justice minister said on Monday that his government would not admit an independent investigation into violence in its Kasai region which has been called for by a top U.N. human rights official. The U.N. Human Rights Council is likely to vote this week on whether to authorize such an investigation into violence that has killed hundreds in central Congo since last August, including two U.N. experts who were murdered earlier this year. "Carrying out an investigation that excludes the Congolese authorities would be unacceptable. It would be as if we were not an independent country," Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba told reporters in Geneva. U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein called on the Council...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/20/17)
The U.N. rights chief said on Tuesday a militia linked to Democratic Republic of Congo's government has committed a string of ethnically-motivated attacks in recent months, including cutting off toddlers' limbs and stabbing pregnant women. Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein called for an international investigation, saying the Kinshasa government had not done enough to look into the atrocities. Congo's human rights minister dismissed that statement. Zeid told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva he had reports the Bana Mura militia was backing the government in its fight against insurgents in the central Kasai region, and had focused attacks on two ethnic groups, the Luba and Lulua. "Refugees from multiple villages in the Kamonya territory indicated that the Bana Mura have...
(Voice of America 06/20/17)
GENEVA — Congo's justice minister says investigations into killings in the central Kasai regions have "progressed well'' and four people have been arrested over the grisly slayings of two U.N. experts. Alexis Thambwe Mwamba expressed opposition to European Union resolution at the Human Rights Council that seeks an international, independent mission to investigate rights violations and allegations of mass graves in the wake of hundreds of killings in the Kasai provinces. Speaking to reporters Monday on the sidelines of the council session, Mwamba said Congo's government has already agreed to allow investigators, but said they should work with Congolese authorities — not independently. Read more at: https://www.voanews.com/a/congo-justice-minister-says-four-arrested-over...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/20/17)
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Stigma and rejection from their communities after returning home from armed groups are driving former girl soldiers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo back into the militias, where they are prey to violence and sexual abuse, a charity said on Monday. For many girls in the conflict-ravaged east of the country, the pain of being spurned by their families and friends as survivors of rape was worse than the violence itself, according to a report by Britain-based Child Soldiers International (CSI). "It is better to die there than come home and be rejected," said one of the 150 former girl soldiers interviewed by CSI. Eastern Congo is plagued by dozens of armed groups that menace...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/20/17)
Religious and indigenous leaders appealed on Monday for better protection of tropical forests from the Amazon to the Congo basin, with a Vatican bishop likening current losses to a collective suicide by humanity. Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Daoist representatives met indigenous peoples in Oslo to explore moral and ethical arguments to shield forests that are under threat from logging and land clearance for farms. Organizers said the Oslo Interfaith Rainforest Initiative from June 19-21 was the first to gather religious and indigenous peoples to seek out common ground to protect forests. They hope to organize a summit in 2018. "Without the forests we don't have life," said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/19/17)
The United States warned on Friday that it had received new reports from within Democratic Republic of Congo accusing Congolese troops of actively carrying out a campaign of killing and raping women and children in the central Kasai region. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called for action. "Reports of the Congolese government's campaign of murder and rape of women and children should shock us into action. These allegations must be investigated and those responsible held accountable," Haley said in a statement. The Democratic Republic of Congo mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment. The top U.N...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/19/17)
The outlawed Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has stepped up attacks in Democratic Republic of Congo close to the South Sudanese border as a U.S.-supported regional task force pulls out, the U.N. humanitarian office said in a report on Friday. Forty rebels from the group, which is led by Joseph Kony, kidnapped 61 civilians in a June 7 raid in the Tanganyika mining area near the Garamba National Park in Haut-Uele province, the report said, citing local civil society and aid workers. The civilians were released after being forced to move goods and food looted by the LRA, and an unknown number of villagers subsequently fled to the nearby town of Gangala Nabodio. There had been no LRA-related displacement for more...
(AFP (eng) 06/18/17)
A soldier and 12 militants were killed Saturday in clashes in DR Congo's restive eastern North-Kivu province, the army said. "Twelve Mai-Mai and an officer from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo died in fighting that last nearly all of Saturday for control of the Kabasha area," army spokesman Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi told AFP. The Mai-Mai are vigilante groups that run along ethnic lines. During the brutal Second Congo War between 1998 and 2003, numerous groups were armed by the government to fight against Ugandan or Rwandan forces, and some of them never disarmed.
(The Associated Press 06/16/17)
PARIS (AP) -- A top Congo opposition leader who fled abroad last year vowed Friday to return home soon to seek the presidency in long-delayed elections, while a group of former African leaders warned of an "acute political crisis" in the troubled country. Moise Katumbi's lawyer said they would seek United Nations protection for the opposition leader when he returns to Congo. Katumbi fled the Central African nation amid legal troubles that he said were trumped-up to stop him from challenging longtime President Joseph Kabila. "I cannot wait," Katumbi told reporters in Paris. "I am returning to prepare my campaign because I am a candidate. ... They don't have the right to block me." He did not give a date...
(AFP (eng) 06/16/17)
Exiled DR Congo opposition leader Moise Katumbi on Friday said he was planning an "imminent" return after the UN asked President Joseph Kabila to guarantee he could campaign for election. "I am going to go home. My return is imminent," said the powerful businessman and ex-governor of mineral-rich Katanga province. "I return with a UN guarantee," Katumbi told a news conference. "I must go home to campaign and save the Congolese people." Katumbi early this month filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva saying he had been forced into exile in a bid to "keep (him) away from the presidential elections" due to take place by year's end. He left the country in May 2016 to...
(AFP (eng) 06/16/17)
"Some people have even eaten sand to try and prevent starvation," says Paulin Kiyankayi, a grim-faced doctor at Kikwit general hospital in DR Congo. He is tired after struggling for months to deal with a huge rise in the numbers of sick and hungry filling his wards, displaced people fleeing an upsurge in violence between tribal militias and the security forces in the central Kasai region. "They suffer from anaemia, fever, diarrhoea and abrasions," Kiyankayi states, listing some of the many health issues he's battling to treat with limited supplies. "And all are affected by malnutrition." About 1.3 million people have been forced to flee their homes in DR Congo's Kasai region, including 60,000 children, after a series of killings...

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