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Human Rights Council condemns Congo violence

The United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned abuses against civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and has said aid must reach those in need.

In an emergency session on Monday the Geneva-based body also backed a stronger mandate for the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC "to increase its ability to address the dire security and humanitarian situation in the region".

More than 250,000 people have been driven from their homes since fighting erupted between Congolese forces and Tutsi rebel General Laurent Nkunda in August and an unknown number have died in widespread violence and looting.

The Human Rights Council resolution in particular condemned the use of sexual violence and the recruitment of child soldiers. It stressed "the importance of bringing all perpetrators to justice".

It was introduced by Egypt on behalf of African states and was adopted by consensus.

The Council also expressed "serious concern" about the plight of internally displaced persons in the DRC and called on all sides of the conflict to allow the free movement of people and access to food, water, medication and shelter.

The Council's resolutions do not include legal or other sanctions but carry diplomatic weight.

Not everyone was satisfied with the Council's text. The Geneva-based UN Watch group said it was hoping to see a UN rights expert assigned to the region and said that abuses "making eastern Congo a living hell" needed to be properly investigated.

"Today's resolution is a major disappointment," it said.


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