Johannesburg, South Africa (ADV) – The United Nations (UN) has called for prosecution of those responsible for bloodshed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This follows a recent UN report which revealed that about 535 men, women and children were killed and 111 others were injured in four areas of the Mai-Ndombe province, during violence associated with intercommunal attacks carried out between 16 and 18 December last year.
The UN Joint Human Rights Office in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) initiated an investigation which found that these attacks were planned and executed with the support of customary chiefs.
“Attacks, which were triggered by a dispute over the burial of a Banunu customary chief, followed strikingly similar patterns and were characterised by extreme violence and speed, leaving little time for people to escape,” revealed the report.
“They were led by Batende villagers equipped with firearms, including hunting rifles, machetes, bows and arrows, and gasoline, and targeted Banunu villagers.”
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, offered the support of her office to ongoing judicial investigations into the violence.
“It is crucial to ensure that the perpetrators of these terrible crimes are punished and that the many women, children and men who were victims of this terrifying violence receive justice and support,” she said.
“I also urge the Government to initiate a process of truth and reconciliation between the Banunu and Batende communities, which will be essential in addressing feelings of intercommunal conflict and preventing further violence.”
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in DRC, Leila Zerrougui, called for urgent measures to restore the authority of the State in Yumbi territory, and to create conditions for the safe and voluntary return of those displaced.
“The neutral presence of State institutions, including the police, is important to maintain law and order and to prevent the risk of further violence,” said Zerrougui.
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