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|© 2020 Edizon Musavuli for Human Rights Watch Gangs Kidnap, Rape, in DR Congo National Park Criminal gangs have kidnapped for ransom at least 170 people near the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo between April 2017 and March 2020.|
Small groups armed with guns and machetes have beaten, tortured, and murdered hostages, raping women and girls, who make up more than half of the hostages, while using threats to extort money from their families. Who Did This? The Rwandan RUD-Urunana rebel group – a splinter faction of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – controls much of the area around Bukoma.
This armed group has been involved in abductions in recent years, and although the involvement of current or former fighters cannot be ruled out, Human Rights Watch has not established their involvement in these recent cases. What Happened to the Abductees? Survivors said they were abducted, sometimes with their infants, while working in the fields or on the way home. Their abductors would force them to walk, hands tied, for several hours into nearby Virunga National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Survivors said that the kidnappers would often tie men’s hands and feet and beat them. Women and girls said the captors methodically raped the female hostages, except prepubescent girls and older women. Many were also badly beaten.
“The kidnappers told us that no woman would come out of there untouched,” said a 28-year-old survivor. © 2020 Edizon Musavuli for Human Rights Watch Survivors also said their captors routinely insulted them, and threatened to kill them, including when talking by phone to their families. The 28-year-old woman said the kidnappers showed her and other hostages two bodies of men whom they said had been clubbed to death when they tried to flee. Other survivors said they were subjected to mock executions and other forms of torture.
“When [they] couldn’t reach my father on the phone, they put a rope around my neck and hanged me,” said another female survivor, 19. “I saw death up close that day.” Were They Released? Most were released only when relatives paid a ransom ranging from US $200 to $600. The payments often caused severe financial hardship for families forced to sell land, leaving them with no source of income. Who Should Help? Victims and families who sought help from the police said they did nothing to find those responsible. Congolese law enforcement should step up and take steps to dismantle the criminal gangs and arrest those responsible. Also, The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO, has a field base within a 10-kilometer radius where most kidnappings have occurred. It should protect civilians by actively patrolling in high-risk areas. Read More Mass Hunger in Afghanistan Afghans waiting in lines to receive emergency assistance from the World Food Program (WFP) in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 3, 2021. © 2021 AP Photo/Bram Janssen
Almost 20 million people – half of Afghanistan’s population – are suffering either level-3 “crisis” or level-4 “emergency” levels of food insecurity under the assessment system of the World Food Programme (WFP) . Over one million children under 5 – especially at risk of dying when deprived of food – are suffering from prolonged acute malnutrition, meaning that even if they survive, they face significant health problems, including stunting.
Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis cannot be effectively addressed unless the United States and other governments ease restrictions on the country’s banking sector to facilitate legitimate economic activity and humanitarian aid. Read More Around The World Sri Lankan Forces Assault Protesters In the early hours of July 22, Sri Lankan security forces forcibly dispersed people at a peaceful protest site and assaulted protesters in central Colombo, injuring more than 50 people and arresting at least 9 others.Read More What Lay Behind the Killing of a Nigerian in Italy? In the small town of Civitanova Marche on Italy’s Adriatic coast, an Italian man beat and strangled a Nigerian street vendor in broad daylight.Read More Morocco’s Hidden Repression Morocco has an ensemble of measures devised to subtly silence prominent critical journalists, dissidents, and human rights activists who either refused to soften their tone or go into exile.Read More Repression in Jammu and Kashmir Indian authorities are restricting free expression, peaceful assembly, and other basic rights in Jammu and Kashmir three years after revoking the region’s special autonomous status.Read More Impact A Win in British Colombia, Canada! In a historic move, British Columbia became the first Canadian province to stop jailing asylum seekers and migrants solely on immigration grounds. This is a momentous victory for people seeking safety in Canada, or who came for a better life.
Thank you to everyone who took part in our #WelcomeToCanada campaign, which began in British Columbia in October 2021. Your stand has made a massive difference! And it’s not too late to be part of this change – our campaign to uphold the dignity and human rights of people who come to Canada has now expanded to the province of Nova Scotia.Act Now!