Kinshasa — AT least 65 civilians have been raped during escalating clashes in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) over the past month.
An increase in the use of survival sex by young girls in affected regions has also been noted.
The violations have been documented in the Beni, Masisi and Rutshuru territories in the North-Kivu Province, where armed rebel groups and the national army are engaged in warfare.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) disclosed the violations were documented in the first half of November alone.
While perpetrators of the offences were yet to be officially made public, rebel groups and the military are implicated.
The rape spree comes in the wake of a deteriorating security situation in the above-mentioned regions, particularly in Benni territory where 574 households have been displaced.
"Consequently, sexual and gender-based violence have remained a problem," said a UNHCR spokesperson.
Armed groups have rendered DRC ungovernable ahead of long-delayed general elections set for December 23. The country is also experiencing its worst Ebola outbreak in history.
The internal displacements are adding to the woes faced by the refugee agency as DRC battles an influx of refugees fleeing crises from neighbouring countries.
Most asylum seekers are from Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.
An increasing number of Central African refugees are voicing their intention of returning to their country of origin as the insecurity in DRC escalates.
Authorities have temporarily ceased cash-for-food distributions to South Sudanese refugees because of insecurity incidents at refugee camps.