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Covid-19 'must not distract' from DR Congo atrocities, says Nobel laureate

Peacekeepers from the UN's Monusco force patrol Ituri Province, in northeastern DR Congo, on April 11, 2020.
Peacekeepers from the UN's Monusco force patrol Ituri Province, in northeastern DR Congo, on April 11, 2020. © Monusco, Creative Commons

Nobel peace laureate Denis Mukwege on Tuesday urged DR Congo to act to end massacres in the country's perennially volatile east and not be derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist hailed for his work with rape victims, was a joint winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for "efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict".

He is now coordinating the fight against the new coronavirus in DR Congo's eastern regions. 

"The Covid-19 crisis must not make us forget the atrocities which are taking place in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo," he said in a statement.

"Civilians are being massacred" in the regions of Ituri and North Kivu, he said. Nearly 300 civilians have been killed in violence in Ituri this year alone.

Tensions have been rising in Ituri since last December with the launch of a government-led military operation against various armed groups in the region

And more than 400 civilians have been butchered since November in North Kivu by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia.

The mainly Muslim movement originated in neighbouring Uganda, opposed to the rule of President Yoweri Museveni, but in 1995 moved into the Democratic Republic of Congo, which became its base of operations.

"In South Kivu, Rwandan and Burundian armies are battling armed groups in the high plateaus of Minembwe, destroying everything in their wake," Mukwege said.

"And in Tanganyika, the Zambians who had until now had good neighbourly relations with DR Congo ... recently invaded our territory."

"The government showed a real political will when faced with Covid-19," he said. "Our authorities need to demonstrate a real political will to end the insecurity in eastern DRC."

Mukwege called for the establishment of an international tribunal for DRC, deep reforms in the military and judiciary, and measures to end impunity for those involved in the violence.

(AFP)              

   

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