UNHCR shocked by rampant abuse of civilians fleeing conflict in DRCListen /
Four months of fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo have resulted in the displacement of nearly 500,000 people and widespread abuse of civilians, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reports.
Since April, villagers in North Kivu province have been fleeing fighting between government forces and armed rebel groups. About 50,000 have sought refuge in Uganda and Rwanda.
UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says the agency is "shocked" by reports of extensive human rights violations and abuses.
"These include indiscriminate and summary killings of civilians, rape and other sexual abuse, torture, arbitrary arrests, assaults, looting, extortion of food and money, destruction of property, forced labour, forced military recruitment, especially of children, and ethnically motivated violence."
UNHCR is calling on all parties to the conflict to protect the civilian population and to prevent indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.