from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – THREE children killed when their school was bombed are among at least 23 civilians massacred during renewed fighting between the M23 rebel group and national army in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Some 16 civilians have been injured and many more have been displaced from their homes since May.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Nderitu, have expressed concern about the consequences of the recent upsurge in hostilities east of the country.
The two senior envoys demanded that all attacks on civilians cease immediately.
“We call on all parties to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” Bachelet and Nderitu jointly stressed.
“We urge the government to ensure that those responsible for abuses and violations are held to account,” they added.
M23 resumed hostilities against DRC troops in November 2021.
Since then, multiple skirmishes have taken place with Congolese armed forces in North Kivu province.
Bachelet and Nderitu also expressed concern over recent developments in Bunagana, Rutshuru territory of the province, where restrictions on freedom of movement as well as looting and ransacking of official buildings, private businesses and media organizations by M23 fighters have been reported.
The envoys also lamented an escalation in hate speech and incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence across the country.
This is specifically against Kinyarwanda speakers as the DRC government accuses.
“Hate speech fuels conflict by exacerbating mistrust between communities,” Bachelet and Nderitu said.
M23 is short for March 23 Movement, also called the Congolese Revolutionary Army.
It staged a rebellion against the government in 2012 but was defeated a year later.
It previously regrouped in 2017.
– CAJ News