Robinson says parties to African peace deal are backing rebels

Former president tells UN security council violence has become ‘accepted normal’

Not a day goes by without a report of killings, rape, sexual assault and displacement of people in eastern DRC, says UN special envoy Mary Robinson

Not a day goes by without a report of killings, rape, sexual assault and displacement of people in eastern DRC, says UN special envoy Mary Robinson

Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 01:00

SIMON CARSWELL


Mary Robinson, the United Nations special envoy for Africa’s troubled Great Lakes region, said there are “credible reports” that countries that signed a regional peace deal are supporting rebel groups.

The former Irish president told the UN security council that the latest fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has had “devastating consequences” on civilians in the region.

“Not a day goes by without a report of killings, rape, sexual assault and displacement of people in eastern DRC,” said Mrs Robinson who assumed the envoy role four months ago. “What strikes me is the lack of outrage and horror at this daily toll. It has become the accepted normal but it is not normal and not acceptable,” she told the UN security council in New York.

She said the “stark reality is that those who suffer the most from this endless conflict and its atrocities are and always have been the civilian population first, particularly women, children and even babies.”

US secretary of state John Kerry said he was “deeply concerned” about claims Rwanda was backing Congolese rebels and Congolese troops were supporting Rwandan rebels.

He urged the 11 African leaders who signed February’s peace deal aimed at ending two decades of conflict in eastern Congo to respect the country’s sovereignty.