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UN revises toll from DR Congo's Kishishe massacre to 171

UN vehicles patrol the road leading to the frontline in Goma, DRC, 25 November 2022   -  
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Jerome Delay/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved.

Democratic Republic Of Congo

A massacre committed at the end of November in two localities in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) left 171 civilians dead, the UN Human Rights Office in the country said on Tuesday, revising to up a previous toll.

A preliminary UN investigation had established, in December, a death toll of 131, while the Kinshasa authorities had mentioned about 300 dead in this massacre.

In its annual report published on Tuesday, the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) documented cases of summary execution of at least 171 people in the localities of Bambo and Kishishe, between 21 and November 30, 2022,_", in the province of North Kivu.

This massacre was "committed by the M23" as "retaliation against civilians for their alleged collaboration with the national defence and security forces and rival armed groups" , he said.

For its part, the American NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Monday that "M23 rebels summarily killed at least 22 civilians in Kishishe" following clashes with local militias.

In its report, the UNJHRO notes that during the year 2022, the situation in North Kivu was largely impacted by the resurgence of the M23 group.

A predominantly Tutsi movement, the M23 (for "March 23 Movement" ) has seized large swaths of territory north of Goma in recent months and continues to advance northwest of the provincial capital of North Kivu.

The DRC accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23, which is corroborated by UN experts and Western countries, although Kigali denies this. For the UNJHRO, the redeployment of security forces to the M23 front in Rutshuru territory (north of Goma) has "resulted in a security vacuum in other territories".

This situation has allowed other local armed groups to extend their domination in this region, which has been plagued by insecurity for nearly 30 years. In response to the M23 offensive, "the Congolese army collaborates with ethnic militias responsible for abuses", notes the report.

In 2022, the UNJHRO "documented 5,969 human rights violations and abuses" across the country, "a decrease of 15%" compared to the previous year.

About 85% of documented cases of human rights violations and abuses were recorded in the eastern provinces (North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika). And in 60% of documented cases, armed groups are responsible.

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