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Sexual Violence in the Congo War: A Continuing Crime

During five years of armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, or Congo), tens of thousands of women and girls1 were raped or otherwise subjected to sexual violence.2  Victims whose cases Human Rights Watch documented were as young as three years old. In a number of cases men and boys were also raped or sexually assaulted. The World Health Organization investigated the incidence of rape in the two provinces of South Kivu and Maniema and in the two cities of Goma (North Kivu province) and Kalémie (Katanga province) and concluded that some forty thousand persons had been raped.3

Combatants of most armies and armed groups in eastern Congo committed acts of sexual violence both before and after the establishment of the transitional government.4 Alleged perpetrators include fighters of the former rebel movements, the RCD-Goma, the MLC, and RCD-ML, and soldiers of the former national army, the FAC, now all supposedly part of an integrated Congolese army. Perpetrators also include combatants of local armed groups, Mai Mai (groups resisting outside control), Burundian and Rwandan Hutu armed groups, and the ethnically-based UPC and FNI based in Ituri.5 Civilian and military judicial authorities and leaders of armed groups rarely punished perpetrators of these crimes. On occasion military commanders and the heads of armed groups seem to have encouraged the use of sexual violence as a way to terrorize civilians.

Following protracted negotiations, the war was declared over and a transitional government was installed in June 2003. But military operations continued in eastern Congo and as recently as December 2004, civilians still suffered from attacks, including acts of sexual violence. By late 2004, the cumbersome arrangement for sharing power among former belligerents faltered and two of the major partners showed readiness to quit. Military forces continue to be loyal to the rebel movements that spawned them and remain only nominally integrated into the new national army, the FARDC. Mutinous forces of the RCD-Goma rebelled in June and again in December 2004 against their nominal commanders.  Local armed groups generally continue to command their home areas, paying little heed to officials of the national government. In Ituri, a much contested district of Orientale province,6 ethnically-based armed groups continue to fight against each other as well as against soldiers of the national army and the U.N. peacekeeping force MONUC. According to U.N. expert panels – one on resource exploitation, one on violations of a U.N.-imposed arms embargo on eastern Congo – officials of neighboring Rwanda and Uganda assist several of these armed groups, thus promoting the continuing armed conflict.7

The cases presented here illustrate different kinds of sexual violence as well as the widespread nature of the crimes, both in terms of geography and in terms of the numbers of groups whose combatants have committed these crimes.

Patterns of sexual violence

There were several patterns of sexual abuse against civilians.8 Soldiers and rebel fighters engaged in acts of sexual violence in the context of military confrontations, to scare the civilian population into submission, punish them for allegedly supporting enemy forces or to provide gratification for the fighters, sometimes after a defeat. In Ituri where armed groups of different ethnicity have fought each other for years, combatants often used sexual violence to target persons of ethnic groups seen as the enemy.9 According to the October 2004 estimate of humanitarian agencies, eight to ten persons were being raped each day in the town of Bunia and a limited number of other locations in Ituri.10 As the representative of one women’s NGO commented, “We could write a whole library about the use of rape here in Ituri. It is just too awful. We now have to live with the legacy of all this and I don’t know how we will cope.”11

Combatants, singly or in small groups, engaged in opportunistic attacks, targeting women and girls in their homes or who were going about their daily business, walking to the market or tending their fields. Cases of sexual violence became so frequent in some areas that women and girls stopped working in the fields or going to the market, took to hiding in the forest at night instead of sleeping in their homes, and sometimes fled their home area altogether.

Combatants living in the forest abducted women and girls and kept them, sometimes for months at a time, in their camps to provide sexual and other services traditionally considered “women’s work” – cooking, cleaning, and fetching water or wood.12 For example, during the war, Mai Mai rebels held large numbers of women in the Shabunda region of South Kivu and in Masisi in North Kivu. Rwandan Hutu rebels abducted women and girls and took them to their bases in the Kahuzi-Biega forest, and Burundian rebels of the Forces for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) held women and girls at Rukoko forest in the Rusizi valley of South Kivu.

Waiting for peace to come: sexual violence after June 2003

Despite the establishment of a supposedly unified transitional government, the violence in eastern Congo continues. Women and girls, still waiting for the promised peace, continue suffering sexual assaults by combatants. In addition, they have been preyed upon by common criminals who are reportedly increasingly perpetrating acts of sexual violence in some areas of North Kivu.13

In September 2004, Centre Olame, a Catholic women’s center in Bukavu, was receiving over two hundred new cases of sexual violence each month from different parts of South Kivu, a sharp rise from late 2002 when the center received about fifty cases a month.14 Between January and May 2004, Panzi hospital, also in Bukavu, treated 1,124 victims of sexual violence.15 Between August 2003 and January 2004 the hospital of Médecins Sans Frontières in the small town of Baraka treated more than 550 rape victims, many of whom had been sexually assaulted after June 2003.16 Baraka is located in Fizi territory, South Kivu province, the scene of heavy fighting and grave abuses during the war. 

Dissident RCD-Goma forces underColonel Mutebutsi and General Nkunda, May-June 2004

On May 26, 2004, a renegade commander, Col. Jules Mutebutsi, rose up against the newly created government army. Together with another renegade, Gen. Laurent Nkunda, and – according to a U.N. report – backed by officers of the Rwandan army, Mutebutsi led his forces to take control of Bukavu on June 2, 2004.17

The mutinous fighters went from house to house in Bukavu, raping and looting. Many women and girls who feared rape went into hiding. In the Bukavu neighborhood of Kadutu, some one hundred women and girls took refuge in a local church, wearing extra layers of clothing to hinder potential rapists.

On June 3 the fighters entered a home where four teen-aged girls were hiding. They found the girls, demanded money, and then raped them, each more than one time. In another incident the same day, six renegade RCD-Goma soldiers gang-raped a woman in front of her husband and children, while another soldier raped her three-year-old daughter. After the rape, the fighters looted the house taking most of the family’s possessions. In another case, on June 4, six fighters raped two three-year-old girls who were in hiding with ten other women and girls. They reportedly told the women, “We’re going to show you that these girls are women like you.”18

One hundred and sixty-nine women and girls who had suffered sexual violence in the May-June combat sought help from the Centre Olame between June and September 2004. One hundred and seventeen said they had been attacked by combatants of Mutebutsi’s and Nkunda’s forces.19 Fifty-eight victims of sexual violence in May and June sought help from Panzi hospital by the end of July, according to staff there.20

Renegade forces under Nkunda’s command, based in the Goma region, also committed acts of sexual violence in villages outside Bukavu in the days before their assault on the city. Léonie W.,21 a middle-aged woman from Minova, a small town on the road from Goma to Bukavu, described the abuses against her nieces at the end of May:

My older sister was killed in the crossfire. Her three daughters were raped in the field, they were thirteen, fourteen, and eighteen-years-old. The thirteen-year-old died. Four men raped her. They had spread her arms and legs and held her down.  I had been with her but hid in a banana tree and watched what happened. Afterward she started to vomit blood, we brought her to Kirotshe hospital and she died two days later. We have $18 debt at the hospital but don’t know how to pay it. The other two were brought to Bunia by the church for medical care. They had been raped elsewhere; when they came home they had already been raped.22

On May 30, 2004, three women who were in Katana town, about thirty kilometers north of Bukavu, were raped by Nkunda’s forces, one woman by five combatants. The men also systematically looted houses in and near Katana.23 According to residents of Minova, Nkunda’s forces raped other women and girls when they withdrew from Bukavu back to Minova. 24 In one case they raped a mother and her eight-year-old child. The child died several days later of her injuries.25 Another woman was gang-raped by four fighters.26 Some women were too afraid to sleep in their own homes at night and others fled to the larger town of Goma in search of security.

Asked about the many reports of rapes by his forces, General Nkunda denied that he had heard of any such cases.27  There have been no investigations or arrests reported of any of his fighters for the crimes committed in Bukavu.

Other sexual violence and exploitation by former members of the RCD-Goma

On August 31, 2003, an RCD-Goma soldier assaulted and raped twenty-year-old Marianne L. in Bunyakiri town, northwest of Bukavu.28 He first approached her on the street at about 7:00 p.m. and asked her to have sex with him. When she refused, he shot her twice in the leg. As she fell down, he shot in the air to scare away any observers and then raped her and afterwards threatened to kill her. Marianne grabbed his gun and other people came to help her. The soldier fled, leaving his gun and military beret behind. Marianne L. was taken to the hospital where her leg had to be amputated below the knee. 

In mid-2003, RCD-Goma was training girls and boys at a military training centre called Nyamunyunu in South Kivu. Some of the girls, who came from very poor families, had joined the RCD-Goma in a search for security. But RCD-Goma forces raped some girls.  In other cases the girls were coerced into having sexual relations out of fear, or in an effort to ensure the means necessary to survive. Anne M., a fourteen-year old girl, told a Human Rights Watch researcher that she was pregnant as a result of having been raped by an RCD-Goma commander.She said,

He sent me to his house to get some food. Then he came in and asked me to help him make the bed. Then he closed the door and caught me. Then other soldiers came behind to shut the door so he could finish his business. That was the first and only time. He didn’t say anything to me after it happened. Before this time the commander had always said he would marry me after the training. I had told him he would have to give a dowry to my family. The MONUC people had come [to arrange for demobilization of minors], after that he took me by force because he realized we would be leaving soon…. 

There was another girl at the camp who had the same problem with her commander, but then when the training ended they married.  She was eighteen. She was satisfied with that; she’s still at the camp. One of the other girls was also taken by force.29

In August 2003 MONUC arranged for the release of children under eighteen years of age from the training camp.30

Sexual violence by Local Defense Forces in North Kivu

Local Defense Forces (LDF) were established as an auxiliary force of the RCD-Goma in 1999. Under the transitional government, they continued to operate in North Kivu as a private militia under the control of current Governor Eugène Serufuli. Many of them were children and received only rudimentary training from RCD-Goma soldiers. They were nominally under the command of civilian authorities named by Serufuli. In February 2004 Serufuli announced that the LDF would be dissolved and its forces would be integrated into the army and the national police or would be demobilized. But many LDF appear to continue to operate under the command of civilian authorities and even those supposedly integrated into the army are said to retain their loyalty to the governor.31

Residents of North Kivu complain of many abuses by members of Local Defense Forces, including rape. On the morning of August 28, 2003, five LDF members attacked Marie T., a seventeen-year old dressmaking student, as she walked to a funeral in her neighborhood in Goma. She said the five men, whom she identified as LDF by their khaki uniforms and plastic boots, hit and kicked her before raping her. She said,

I was a first-year student in dressmaking but I left school because of what happened. I was ashamed because my classmates all knew what had happened. My friends gossiped a lot about what had happened. I feel okay now, but I’m sad.32

Sexual abuses by government armed forces, May-June 2004

According to local sources, government soldiers of the 10th military region under Commander Mbusa Mabe also committed acts of sexual violence at the time of the Mutebutsi-Nkunda uprising. Many of these soldiers came from different former forces, such as the FAC, including Mbusa Mabe himself, the MLC and Mai Mai. Fifty-two women who sought care at the Centre Olame in Bukavu said they had been raped by government forces during these weeks. The troops reportedly raped many of the women in Walungu, where they were based while Mutebutsi and Nkunda’s fighters controlled the town of Bukavu. In some cases, they caught women who were fleeing Bukavu and in other cases, they attacked the women and girls as the troops were returning to resume control of Bukavu.33

Sexual violence by members of the former RCD-ML in Lubero, North Kivu

In June 2003, the RCD-Goma took control of Lubero territory, North Kivu, from the RCD-ML. The defeated RCD-ML then committed grave abuses against civilians between June 19 and 22 in and near Musienene, about thirteen miles south of Butembo. According to reports received by the Center for Applied Legal Studies (CEJA), a human rights organization based in Butembo, RCD-ML forces committed twenty-two cases of sexual violence at this time, many of them against children.34  Many more cases of rape may not have been reported.

Sexual violence by former MLC forces in Ituri and Equateur

MLC forces have committed numerous acts of sexual violence. In a particularly egregious case of sexual abuse, forces of the former MLC gang-raped about 120 women and girls in two villages in Mongala district, Equateur province, on December 21 and 22, 2003. 35 These former MLC fighters had recently been integrated into the new Congolese army, the FARDC, and had revolted against their commander, whom they suspected of having stolen the money meant to pay their salaries. In April 2004, MONUC visited the villages and assisted the Military Prosecutor of the Congolese armed forces in starting an investigation. In two days investigators received 119 complaints of rape and eighty-six complaints of looting. So far, no one has been arrested or prosecuted for these crimes.36

Attacks by Rwandan Hutu combatants 

Some ten thousand Rwandan Hutu combatants continue sporadic military activity in eastern Congo, a substantial number of them organized into the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR).37 Combatants of many of these groups carry out human rights abuses against Congolese who live in their vicinity including, rape, pillaging, and forcible occupation of property. FDLR fighters have also sometimes been blamed for crimes they did not commit as local authorities charge them with responsibility for attacks committed by their own forces.

In the second half of 2003, Rwandan combatants based in the Kahuzi Biega forest in South Kivu appear to have stepped up attacks on Congolese living nearby. In October 2003, 35 percent of cases of sexual violence registered at Panzi hospital (the most well-equipped hospital in South Kivu) came from Walungu, an area adjacent to the forest.38 Ten women reported having been raped by these combatants near Ninja. One of them, Térèse K.,a forty-three year old widow and mother of eight told a representative of the Center Olame,

It was July 15, 2003, at about 1 pm. I was at home. The Hutu came. They were looking for something to eat. I told them I have nothing, neither at home nor at the banana plantation. They discovered a heap of fresh earth and thought that I was hiding my treasure there.  I told them it was the body of my child that I had buried there three days ago. But they did not believe me. They started to dig until they took out the child. Then they saw that it was really a body and nothing else in there. When I saw it I started to cry and so did my other children. … Later, I went to the field to get some manioc. . . . They assaulted me, I tried to resist but they were stronger.  One of them managed to rape me. The other one kicked me with his foot with disgust, as if to get some dirt out of the way. I fled leaving my basket and manioc behind.39 

Térèse K. and the other women from Ninja also reported that Rwandan Hutu rebels had permanently occupied some houses and forcibly evicted the owners.

Rwandan Hutu combatants raped women and girls in North Kivu as well. Evelyne M., a middle-aged widow, was attacked and raped in December 2003 by FDLR in Masisi Territory of North Kivu. She said,

It was around Christmas. I was making a trip on foot of about forty kilometers to sell a basket of flour. They were ten at least who raped me. I knew some of them by face because they often come to our village; but I don’t know their names. I have a six-year-old son who was there when I was raped. We were both beaten a lot with sticks and he still has medical problems. I even fell unconscious, and spent several days in the bush on the same spot without moving. Some people then came along, alerted the local chief, and he sent people to transport me to a health center. They carried me and my son on their backs.  I had been really badly beaten, and my clothes were taken. I was naked, so those who carried me gave me clothes. Since then my uterus has collapsed, it moves around and water and blood comes out, especially when I carry heavy jugs of water. It burns.40

It was only three months after the attack that Evelyne M. reached Goma where she received care at a center run by a Congolese NGO for torture victims. She had lacked the money to pay for the two-hour trip by car.41

In the first months of 2004, sixty-one victims of sexual violence sought help from a center for victims run by the Congolese NGO, Promotion and Support for Women’s Initiatives (Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Féminines, PAIF) in Kalehe territory, north of Bukavu. All said they had been attacked by Rwandan combatants.42

Attacks by Mai Mai

Women and girls in Shabunda territory, South Kivu, complained of widespread rape by Mai Mai fighters in the past. There continue to be reports of sexual violence by Mai Mai forces that have not been integrated into the FARDC.43

In July 2003, Sophie M., a thirty-nine year old mother of five, and eleven other women were attacked by about thirty Mai Mai fighters as they made their way to their fields about 140 kilometers from Shabunda town. She said,

I was raped by them in front of my husband. They held him down while they did it. I was released afterwards because my husband and children pleaded with them, and cried saying “They will kill maman.” I was raped by more than three men. I cannot remember the exact number because I lost consciousness. Afterwards a neighbor helped me, because I was bleeding. She boiled water and some herbs for me.44

Sophie M. reported that the Mai Mai abducted the other eleven women after having raped them. Mai Mai fighters told her that the women would serve other men in the villages while they are without women in the forest. Sophie M. said that four of the eleven later escaped from the Mai Mai. She continued,

The women told me about their stay with [the Mai Mai]. They were raped all the time. Some were held in huts so that they could not flee. The four that came back have health problems.45

Asked how she knew the attackers were Mai Mai, Sophie M. explained that they were wearing animal skins rather than uniforms, which is typical for Mai Mai. After the rape, she was bleeding heavily due to an internal injury. She was taken to a medical center in Bukavu where she received treatment. While her health has now improved, and she has tested negative for HIV/AIDS, her marriage seems destroyed:

My husband does not want to live together any more because I had sex with Mai Mai. The perpetrators must be punished. The leader of the Mai Mai can be identified and should also be punished.46

Mai Mai groups are also active throughout North Kivu.  Christine D. was abducted during combat between two competing groups around Pinga in January 2003:

They took me by force because I was alone. My mother had fled in another direction. There were three: one raped me and the others were with him. I stayed with them for a long time in the forest, one year. I became pregnant and lost the baby. I became pregnant again, so I fled here. There was another girl with me, from a different family, who was also raped by the same man. Four months along in her pregnancy she died; there was no medical care…. Every time we tried to run away, we were beaten.47

Christine D. knew the name of her attacker, and said she would like to see him arrested.  “But it would be hard to catch him because he’s hidden in the forest,” she said.

In mid-2003, Mai Mai combatants, just defeated by RCD-ML forces, raped women and girls and looted and destroyed property as they abandoned villages to the advancing RCD-ML forces. According to an inquiry done by the human rights group CEJA, six of their victims were raped in Vuyinga, about sixty miles west of Butembo, between July 8 and July 10, 2003.48

As part of the process of creating a new national army, rebel forces and armed groups have been cantoned in a number of areas where they are to be either retrained or demobilized. According to local women’s groups, Mai Mai combatants quartered at Mangango camp, some ten miles outside Beni, committed at least sixteen rapes in the immediate vicinity of the camp during the first nine months they were based there.49

Sexual violence by Lendu armed groups and their allies in Ituri

According to local human rights advocates and medical staff in Ituri, widespread rape of women and girls has become frequent with the growth of armed groups in the region. Human Rights Watch has documented widespread acts of sexual violence committed by Lendu armed groups and their allies, in particular Ngiti armed groups.50 According to one representative of a women’s group:

[Lendu combatants] come to houses at night and rape the women, sometimes in front of their husband. Sometimes they stop women as they go to fetch water or go to the fields. They also stop girls coming back from school. When they rape them in their houses, they steal as well.51

A medical professional in Ituri told a Human Rights Watch researcher that more than 650 women were raped between the end of 2002 and January 2004. He described one early 2004 case in which twelve FNI combatants attacked two women of another ethnic group and raped them and then further injured them by inserting sticks into their vaginas.52

Because of lack of money to pay the costs or because of fear of being known as a rape victim, many women and girls fail to get the necessary medical treatment. One girl, Claudine N., seventeen years old, was raped in January 2004 and became pregnant. Afraid the rape would become public knowledge, she tried to abort the pregnancy by taking traditional medicines. She became ill and went to a health center ten miles away, where she was not known. But it was too late and she died.53

In a few cases FNI leaders have punished combatants accused of rape. FNI President Floribert Njabu told a Human Rights Watch researcher that four FNI fighters were arrested in Kpandruma in early 2004. Although there was apparently neither formal investigation nor trial, two of the accused were executed and the two others imprisoned.  “We kill people who rape,” said Njabu.  “If we arrest them and do nothing then people will say we let them go and did not punish them.”54   President Njabu seemed unconcerned about the illegality of summary executions, saying “Congolese law does not apply here. This is the Republic of Ituri.”55 

Attacks by the UPC in Ituri

Hema UPC combatants have been guilty of widespread rape of women and girls in Bunia and other parts of Ituri.  In the one month of May 2003, for example, when the UPC sought to re-establish control over Bunia and outlying areas, 125 women and girls were raped.56 Twenty-five year old Cécile W. said,

In May 2003 UPC combatants entered my house at 9:00 p.m. one night. There were four of them and I was alone in the house.  They all took turns raping me. They told me not to shout and said they would kill me if I did.  They looted everything from my house. As one was raping me the others would be going through the house taking what they wanted. It was dark and I couldn’t see their faces. I didn’t dare to tell anyone. I was scared so I fled the next day and went away from that place. I now suffer from problems each month when I menstruate. I was treated by MSF [Médicins Sans Frontières] but they cannot cure me. They said they have done everything they can but I still suffer.57

Brigitte K., a frail fifteen-year-old girl told a Human Rights Watch researcher that she was raped in May 2003. She said,

I was sent by my family to get an axe in town.  When I was coming back I met a group of UPC combatants in Mudzipela near the Radio Candip station.  One of them took me by force into a nearby house.  The people who were in the house ran out as soon as they saw him.  He tore my clothes off and then he raped me.  It was my first time.  He told me he would shoot me if I shouted.  I went home and told my mother.  She took me with her to the military camp and I recognized the man who had raped me, but he fled.  The officer told my mother he would give her some money to take me to hospital but he never did.  I suffered from headaches after this and I feel a constant pain in my stomach.58

The combatant identified by the girl was not arrested, nor has this or other cases of alleged rape by UPC combatants been investigated.

Male rape

Men and boys in increasing numbers are also reporting having been raped and otherwise sexually assaulted by combatants; however there are no figures available. Some have sought help from centers that assist victims of sexual violence, such as the medical program run by Médicins Sans Frontières in Baraka, South Kivu.59 Few victims give detailed statements about attacks they have suffered. But Charles B., a man from Ituri told a Human Rights Watch researcher:

I was arrested on August 31, 2002 in Bunia along with my father. The UPC arrested us as they thought we were against them because of our ethnicity.  I did not understand it as I had done nothing wrong. I spent one month and ten days in prison. When they first arrested us they interrogated us, sometimes every two days. We stood nude in front of UPC officials; one of them was Rafiki Saba [UPC Chief of Security]. I was so shocked. I had never seen my father this way. In our culture, it is not right. First they molested us … then they raped us. Even today I cannot really talk about this.  It is too awful.  After the interrogations we were sent to different prison areas.  To this day I don’t know what happened to my father, whether he is dead or alive.  I am still traumatized by what happened to me and I have a lot of health problems.60

The UPC combatants later took Charles B. and some twenty other prisoners out in a van. They stopped the van at intervals and each time removed several prisoners and shot them. The victim was one of the last group. Those with him were shot but he was saved when one of the executioners recognized him.61

With the increase in victims who are men or boys, local NGOs and international agencies will need to find ways to offer medical, psychological, and legal assistance that address the specific needs of male victims.

[1] In this report, consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the terms girl, boy and child are used to describe someone under eighteen years of age.

[2] The term “sexual violence” is used in this report to refer to all forms of violence of a sexual nature, such as rape, attempted rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, sexual assault and sexual threat.

[3] IRIN, DRC: Focus on rampant rape, despite end of war, March 8, 2004. The report found that that there were about 25,000 victims in South Kivu province, 11,350 in Maniema province, 1,625 in Goma, and 3,250 in Kalémie. 

See (accessed on June 4, 2004). Other reports have confirmed the seriousness of the problem in areas not treated by this report. See Initiative conjointe de lutte contre les violences sexuelles faites à la femme et à l’enfant (fille et garçon), Rapport de mission effectuée dans les villes de Kalémie, Bukavu et Goma du 5 au 18 aout 2003, August 2003 ; Médecins Sans Frontières, Mass rape, looting widespread in southeast DR Congo, September 12, 2003; and 14th Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. S/2003/1098, November 17, 2003.

[4] Combatants are members of any armed force participating in a conflict. Members of regular government forces are soldiers. In this report, members of the RCD-Goma, which was highly organized and at times operated under the command of the Rwandan army, are also described as soldiers. Members of other armed groups are described as fighters or rebels. For sexual abuses committed by the Rwandan army, see Human Rights Watch, Democratic Republic of Congo: The War Within The War. Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo. (New York: Human Rights Watch), June 2002.

[5] While Mai Mai groups under commander Padiri have been integrated into the new national army, other Mai Mai groups are operating entirely outside the FARDC.

[6] Between 1999 and 2003, the Ugandan government controlling Ituri attempted to make Ituri a separate province, and a governor was nominated. However, Ituri was never recognized as a province. 

[7] Report by the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo. S/2003/1027, October 2003. Report by the Experts Group on the Application of the Arms Embargo Measures imposed by the Security Council in the Democratic Republic of Congo. S/2005/30, January 2005.

[8] For details, see Human Rights Watch, Democratic Republic of Congo: The War Within The War. Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Eastern Congo. (New York: Human Rights Watch), June 2002.

[9] Human Rights Watch, Ituri: Covered in Blood. Ethnically Targeted Violence in Northeastern DR Congo,  vol.15, No.11 (A), July 2003. 

[10] Statistics from Cooperatione Italiano (COOPI), Bunia, provided on October 9, 2004.

[11] Human Rights Watch interview, women’s NGO representative, Bunia, October 10, 2004.

[12] Abductions for such purposes are a form of gender-based violence, i.e. violence based on the victim’s (perceived) gender role in society.

[13] Synergie pour l’Assistance Judiciaire aux Victimes des Violations des Droits Humains (SAJ), Rapport sur la situation des droits humains: cas de violences sexuelles identifiées de janvier à juin 2004 au Nord Kivu, June 2004.

[14] Human Rights Watch interview with representative of Centre Olame, Bukavu, October 14, 2003, and telephone interview, October 6, 2004, 2004.

[15] Human Rights Watch interview with staff at Panzi Hospital, Bukavu, July 23, 2004. The women and girls received treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, and/or surgery.

[16] Médicins Sans Frontières, I have no joy, no peace of mind. Medical, psychological and socio-economic consequences of sexual violence in eastern Congo. (MSF Amsterdam: 2004).

[17] Both government and dissident forces committed abuses against civilians. See Human Rights Watch, Democratic Republic of Congo: War Crimes in Bukavu, June 2004.

[18] Human Rights Watch, Democratic Republic of Congo: War Crimes in Bukavu, June 2004.

[19] Other victims said they had been sexually assaulted by FARDC forces; see section below. Human Rights Watch interview with representative of Centre Olame, July 21, 2004. Additional information in an email by representative of Centre Olame, October 21, 2004. 

[20] Human Rights Watch interview with staff of Panzi hospital, Bukavu, July 23, 2004.

[21] All names of victims and witnesses in this report are complete pseudonyms.

[22] Human Rights Watch interview with Léonie W.,  Goma, July 16, 2004.

[23] Promotion and Support for Women’s Initiatives (Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Féminines, PAIF), Rapport sur les violations des droits de l’homme à Katana, June 2004.

[24] Human Rights Watch interview with victim, Goma, July 16, 2004.

[25] Human Rights Watch interview, Goma, June 2004.

[26] Human Rights Watch interview with victim, Goma, July 16, 2004.

[27] Telephone interview with General Nkunda, June 9, 2004.

[28] Human Rights Watch interviews with Marianne Land local NGO staff, Bukavu, October 15 and 16, 2003.

[29] Human Rights Watch interview with Anne M., Bukavu, October 15, 2003.

[30] Human Rights Watch interviews with MONUC staff and local NGOs, October 2003. Some of the victims were then sent to a center for disadvantaged children where they received psycho-social support.

[31] Human Rights Watch interviews, Goma, July 2004.

[32] Human Rights Watch interview with Marie T., Goma, November 18, 2003.

[33] Human Rights Watch interviews, Bukavu, July 20 and 21, 2004.

[34] CEJA, RCD-ML et RCD-Goma, Attaques contre la population civile dans le territoire de Lubero. Rapport sur les abus des droits de l’homme commis par les troupes rebelles à Musienene en juin 2003, August 2003.

[35] Third Special report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Annex 1, paragraph 3. S/2004/650, August 16, 2004.

[36] Third Special report of the Secretary-General.

[37] Sometimes called “Interahamwe,” (a militia that participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide) or ex-FAR, (members of the former Rwandan army), many of these combatants were too young to have participated in the genocide and have been recruited more recently.

[38] Human Rights Watch interview with staff at Panzi Hospital, Bukavu, October 16, 2003.

[39] Centre Olame interview notes provided to Human Rights Watch, November 17, 2003 (translation by Human Rights Watch).

[40] Human Rights Watch interview with Evelyne M., Kitshanga, March 18, 2004.

[41] Human Rights Watch interview with Evelyne M., Kitshanga, March 18, 2004.

[42] PAIF statistics, provided to Human Rights Watch.

[43] Human Rights Watch interview with local NGO representative from South Kivu, Goma, September 24, 2004.

[44] Human Rights Watch interview with Sophie M., Bukavu, October 16, 2003.

[45] Human Rights Watch interview with Sophie M., Bukavu, October 16, 2003.

[46] Human Rights Watch interview with Sophie M., Bukavu, October 16, 2003.

[47] Human Rights Watch interview with Christine D., Kitshanga, March 18, 2004.

[48] CEJA, RCD-ML et Mai Mai, Attaques contre la population civile dans le territoire de Lubero. Rapport sur les abus massifs des droits de l’homme par les troupes rebelles du RCD-ML et les combattants Mai-Mai à l’ouest de Butembo de juillet à septembre 2003, October 2003.

[49] Group meeting with human rights NGOs, Beni, February 24, 2004.

[50] Human Rights Watch, Covered in Blood, pp.45-46.

[51] Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative, Rethy, March 4, 2004.

[52] Human Rights Watch interview with hospital staff, Rethy, March 3, 2004.

[53] Human Rights Watch interview with representative of NGO, Rethy, March 4, 2004.

[54] Human Rights Watch interview with FNI President Floribert Njabu, Mongbwalu, May 7, 2004

[55] Human Rights Watch interview with FNI President Floribert Njabu, Mongbwalu, May 7, 2004.

[56] Statistics from Cooperatione Italiano (COOPI), Bunia, provided on October 9, 2004.

[57] Human Rights Watch interview with Cécile W., Bunia, October 10, 2004.

[58] Human Rights Watch interview with Brigitte K., Bunia, October 10, 2004.

[59] Médicins Sans Frontières, I have no joy, no peace of mind. Medical, psychological and socio-economic consequences of sexual violence in eastern Congo (MSF Amsterdam: 2004).

[60] Human Rights Watch interview with Charles B., Europe, June 24, 2004.

[61] Human Rights Watch interview with Charles B., Europe, June 24, 2004. Other cases in Médicins Sans Frontières, I have no joy, no peace of mind: Medical, psychological and socio-economic consequences of sexual violence in eastern Congo, MSF Amsterdam: 2004; Initiative conjointe de lutte contre les violences sexuelles faites à la femme et à l’enfant (fille et garçon), Rapport de mission.

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