Prosecute those behind ethnic clashes, UN asks DRC government

A child soldier with a machine gun. Photo by ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/Getty Images.

The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called on the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to quash, investigate and prosecute those fueling the ‘ethnic cleansing’  clashes in Kasai Province.

“I call on the Government (of DRC) to take all necessary measures to fulfil its primary obligation to protect people from all ethnic backgrounds in the greater Kasai area,” the High Commissioner said.

Basing his statement of a recent UN Human Rights report, the officer said the ethnic clashes being perpetuated by militia groups are not only crimes under international law, but also a recipe for more dehumanising acts like rape.

One militia group from the Kamuina Nsapu, is using children on between seven and 13 years as soldiers.

Interviews of 96 people, who have sought refuge in Angola since March, 2017, revealed that at least 251 people have been killed. Out of the 62 children killed, 30 are under eight years.

Apart from the killings, the use of children as soldiers in armed conflicts violates the international Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Besides, the UN Mission in the DRC has also identified at least 80 mass graves in the Kansai.

DRC government has been fighting the Kamuina Nsapu militia since August 2016. The UN has confirmed that another group, Mana Mura was formed between March and April this year by the Tshokwe, Pende and Tetela ethnic groups to attack the Luba and Lulua communities – who are accused of being accomplices of the Kamuina Nsapu.

Luba and Lulua witnesses and victims said that the Bana Mura militia carried out well-planned attacks on several villages in Kamonia territory in April and May.

Wearing white bandanas made from mosquito nets and bracelets of leaves, the Bana Mura attacked Luba and Lulua inhabitants, beheading, mutilating and shooting victims; in some cases burning them alive in their homes, according to the UN.

In one incident, in the village of Cinq, 90 patients, colleagues and people who had sought refuge in a health centre were killed, including patients who could not escape when the surgical ward was set on fire.

The UN report team also heard accounts of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence.

Worse still, the Kamuina Nsapu militia carried out targeted killings, including against the military, police, and public officials- who are supposed to protect the vulnerable citizens.

Among other aspirations, African Union’s Agenda 2063 envisions a united political continent where prosperity is rooted in peace, good governance, respect for human rights, among others.

That is why the continent set another vision of ending armed wars by the 2020 in pursuit of peace-building and alternative conflict resolution.

Peace-building is one of the themes spearheaded among the National Human Rights Institutions through the umbrella body, the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions.

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