Investigators working for the United Nations have discovered 17 mass graves in the Central Democratic Republic of Congo, adding to the 23 graves that were recently discovered in the area.
The sites are said to have been dug by Congolese soldiers in late March, following their recent deadly clash with local militia in Kasai Central province, according to a statement released by the UN Wednesday:
“The discovery of yet more mass graves and the reports of continued violations and abuses highlight the horror that has been unfolding in the Kasais over the last nine months,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.
Al Hussein further insisted that the increasing reports of serious human rights abuses in Kasai Central and Kasai Oriental provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo warrant an investigation by an international body, such as the International Criminal court (ICC).
According to the UN, at least 74 people — among them 30 children — were killed by soldiers from the Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC), when they clashed with members of the local Kamuina Nsapu militia group in Kasai provice.
“Should there be no effective national investigation, I will not hesitate to urge the international community to support an investigation by an international mechanism, including the International Criminal Court,” Al Hussin added.
Killing of Women & Children
The team of UN investigators is also looking in to allegations of mass killings in Kananga town in Kasai Central province, where it’s alleged that FARDC soldiers killed at least 40 people, including 12 women and 11 children.
It has also been reported that at least two women and three girls were raped by government soldiers during the operation.
The Kamuina Nsapu militia group has also been accused of carrying out a series of criminal activities against locals in Central DRC, including killings, abductions, and the recruitment of child soldiers.
The UN’s human rights body has called on the Congolese government to take quick and meaningful actions to ensure perpetrators of these heinous acts are brought to justice.
The organization further wants the government to ensure there is a prompt, transparent, and independent investigation to establish the facts and circumstances of the alleged human rights violations perpetrated by all parties.
Since 1998, some parts of the DRC have been experiencing constant violence, which is often triggered by clashes between government forces and local militia.
The current political stalemate in the DRC was instigated by the refusal of the current President Joseph Kabila to step down at the end of his final term in office in December last year, which has also stirred up political violence in the country, with some experts warning of a possible civil war.