DR Congo: Who is to blame for rampage, gov’t or rebels?

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OXfam aid agency has reported widespread looting, burning of villages and an alarming rate of sexual violence in North Kivu, Eastern Congo, where over 200,000 people have been fleeing from and around the town of Kanyabayonga towards Lubero.

The Hutu militia is reportedly re-emerging from the forests of Congo to attack villages again. This re-emergence is as a result of the withdrawal of the well trained Rwandan forces from the country.

The Oxfam reports claim that various armed groups (Identified as Hutu Militias) are now attacking civilians in the east. “The continued insecurity in North Kivu Province is making it difficult to deliver aid to those displaced (…) Oxfam is very worried that continued military operations are having a serious effect on the people who have had to flee their homes,” said Marcel Stoessel, Oxfam’s country director in DR Congo.

Rwanda and Congo had established a joint operation against the Hutu rebels earlier this year. The initiative was hailed as a great success by both Rwanda and DR Congo. But now that the better-trained and equipped Rwandan army has left DR Congo, the Hutu rebels have returned to the villages, killing and raping.

Contrary to Oxfam reports, local reporters in Congo claim that the attacks on villages have been committed by members of the Congolese army and the FDLR militia because the soldiers have not been paid for the past three months.

The leaders of the Hutu rebellion are accused of taking part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. When Tutsi rebels took power in Rwanda, many of the Hutu killers sought refuge in Congo under the protection of then Congo president, Mr. Mobutu Sese Sisoko. Rwanda then invaded DR Congo, in a bid to fish out the Hutu killers and end their rebellion.

Since late 2006, on-and-off fighting involving the Hutu FDLR militia, the Rwandan and Congolese army and other militias has already displaced more than one million people in North Kivu.

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