UN accuses DR Congo militia of ‘horrible attacks’

John Wessels, AFP | A woman in a camp for displaced people in the Kwilu province after fleeing the violence in the Kasai

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday accused the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo of arming a militia carrying out “horrible attacks” against civilians in the Kasai region.


“I am dismayed by the creation and arming of a militia, Bana Mura, which would support the authorities in the struggle [against the Kamwina Nsapu rebellion] but which has carried out horrible attacks against civilians from the Luba and Lulua ethnic groups,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

A UN spokesman told AFP that it was unclear which authorities had lended support to the militia.

The High Commissioner called for an international investigation to be opened, while the Human Rights Council is due to rule on a resolution plan, following a demand from the EU, on Thursday or Friday. A representative from the USA has endorsed his support, on Tuesday, for an investigation.

Alarmed by reports about the atrocities and given the difficulty of reaching the Kasai, the High Commissioner decided last week to send an investigation team to the region to meet the refugees fleeing the violence.

The DRC is strongly opposed to the UN investigation and sent its justice minister, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, to Geneva on Monday to convince diplomats to vote against it and to guarantee that “the government is determined to lead different investigations”.

Papal envoy says over 3,000 dead in eight months

The UN warning came as the Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday said more than 3,000 people have been killed in eight months of spiralling violence in Kasai.

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 DRC armed forces (FARDC), four by the tribal militias and six by unidentified forces.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

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