Security forces and militia fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity in a conflict in the country’s Kasai region, the United Nations said.
Congolese soldiers and two armed groups — Kamwina Nsapu and Bana Mura — committed “multiple atrocities, including numerous cases of sexual violence and abuses against children, which can be described as crimes against humanity or war crimes,” the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report published on Tuesday.
“A very serious problem of impunity exists,” it said. Congo Human Rights Minister Marie-Ange Mushobekwa didn’t immediately respond to calls from Bloomberg requesting comment.
Protracted violence broke out in Kasai, which comprises five provinces in southern and central Congo, in August 2016 after state forces killed a traditional chief, triggering fighting with a militia of his followers known as Kamwina Nsapu. An armed group, Bana Mura, emerged last year and received support from the security forces as it massacred people from the ethnic groups from which Kamwina Nsapu recruits, according to UN investigators.
The violence has abated since August 2017, while sporadic attacks by all sides continue, the UN said. About 1.4 million people were forced to flee their homes during the conflict, according to the UN.
The investigators were “shocked by the scale of the violence which caused thousands of deaths as well as the disastrous human-rights situation which has endured in the Kasai region since 2016,” according to the report, which was based on more than 500 interviews with victims, witnesses and perpetrators.