UNHCR: Sexual violence on the rise in DR Congo's North Kivu ProvinceListen /
Recurrent conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province is uprooting more civilians and exposing an increasing number of women, girls and men to rape, according to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR).
Since January this year, UNHCR teams in the region have registered 705 cases of sexual violence, including 619 cases of rape.
UNHCR says the victims included 288 minors and 43 men, adding that most of the sexual violence is reportedly committed by armed men.
Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba is UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva.
"We are worried that the fighting between the ADF, a Ugandan rebel group, and the army as well as renewed fighting between the army and the M23 rebels near the North Kivu capital, Goma, over the past two weeks will increase the danger for women in the region, including those living in camps. Out of the 705 cases of sexual violence reported to our staff since the beginning of the year, 434 were perpetrated by armed elements."
She says many cases of sexual violence in the region remain unreported, but UNHCR is working closely with other humanitarian organizations and the authorities to strengthen the monitoring of sexual violence including the training of police officers on how to respond and manage rape cases.
Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.