Kinshasa — THE army, police and militia groups have over the past month allegedly raped over 70 citizens in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Victims are among more than the 22 000 Congolese who were refugees in Zambian villages but returned to their homes in Pweto in the Haut-Katanga Province this year amid indications violence that initially uprooted them had ceased.
They fled between September and November 2017.
Of the 71 cases of rape, about 45 percent are equally attributed to members of the militia and the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC). The remaining 55 percent is reportedly the responsibility of the police and civilians belonging to self-defense groups.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Pweto leads with 79 percent of cases of protection incidents, which also consist of illegal taxes and extortion of property.
Of these abuses, gender-based sexual violence accounts for about 13 percent of the cases recorded in Pweto.
A UNHCR spokesperson said the upsurge in protection incidents followed the insecurity engendered by the community violence and the strong militarisation of the area.
Security forces have been deployed to curb militancy by rebel groups opposed to President Joseph Kabila's continued stay in power despite the lapse of his term in 2016.
Meanwhile, an outbreak of measles has been reported in the six health zones of Haut-Katanga.
Some 130 cases have been reported for March.
Health authorities have blamed the outbreak on the low rate of vaccination coverage, promiscuity and malnutrition.