UN rights expert calls on warring factions in DR of Congo to

A United Nations human rights expert has appealed to warring factions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to protect the civilian population, especially women and children.In an appeal to the principal leaders of the Hemas and Lendus ethnic communities, as well as to armed groups operating in the province of Ituri, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DRC, Iulia Motoc, strongly condemned the human rights violations being carried out by the warring parties.Noting that there had been instances of civilian massacres, summary executions, forced disappearances, abductions, violations of physical integrity, rapes, pillaging and inhuman and degrading treatment, Mrs. Motoc said that the poor conflict management has further widened the gap between the two communities.She reaffirmed that negotiations are the only way to end the conflict and called on the leaders of the ethic communities and the armed groups to end the suffering of the civilian population in Ituri and to allow them to find peace.The Special Rapporteur recalled that the peace agreement signed on 30 July between Congolese President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame, under the aegis of South African President Thabo Mbeki, was a step forward on the path towards peace, reconciliation and the restoration of the respect of human rights in the DRC as well as in the Central African region.She stressed that the peace agreement could not have any effect on the ground without the cessation of hostilities, and called on the ethnic communities and the armed groups to lay down their weapons, put an end to attacks, express their support for the peace process, and work with the United Nations to ensure a favourable climate for the end of hostilities.The Special Rapporteur also called on the Government to take a more active role in the search for a durable and acceptable solution to the ethnic conflict in Ituri. read more