UN says warring parties all committed atrocities in Congo

Warring parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo have all carried out attacks against civilians in North Kivu, where fighting has raged for weeks between government and rebel troops, the UN said Wednesday.

The UN said that some 250,000 Congolese have been displaced by the fighting, some for the second or third time in a matter of weeks. It said that one in four inhabitants in the region has become a refugee inside the the DR Congo, dpa reported.

"All belligerents have committed serious atrocities against civilians, and these include widespread looting," Alan Doss, the secretary-general's special representative to the DR Congo, said in a report to the UN Security Council.

He said that undisciplined elements on both sides of the war have attacked and destroyed refugee camps, forced inhabitants to flee and carried out targeted killings, some of them ethnically motivated.

"Women and children have suffered most from the recurrent fighting," he said. "Sexual violence is rampant, and many armed groups continue to recruit children into their ranks. Ethnic tensions are rising steadily, fuelled by some local media and some political and civil-society leaders."

The Security Council called for the testimony by UN officials in the DR Congo in an effort to review the situation and last week authorized the deployment of an additional 3,000 troops to the war- torn regions to help halt atrocities against civilians. The UN peacekeeping operation in Congo has about 17,000 forces, spread thinly over the vast DR Congo, a territory more than three times the size of France.

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