1,300 civilians killed in DR Congo, over half million flee in months: UN

About 1,300 civilians have been killed in conflicts across DR Congo while over half a million people have been displaced by violence in a matter of months, the UN said Friday.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned in a statement that some of the massacres and attacks behind the killings and displacement “may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Her office warned that the number of victims had soared in recent weeks as separate conflicts in three eastern provinces, Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, had spread “with disastrous repercussions for the civilian population.”

Armed groups, it said, had committed massacres and atrocities, while government forces had also committed grave violations.

“I am appalled by the increase in brutal attacks on innocent civilians by armed groups, and by the reaction of the military and security forces who have also committed grave violations, including killings and sexual violence,” Bachelet said.

“These are not only reprehensible and criminal acts, but they also break the trust between people and the state representatives, both security and political,” she added.

The violence has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee.

Military operations and retaliatory attacks against civilians by armed groups have displaced more than 400,000 civilians in North Kivu since last September, while over 110,000 people, mainly women and children, have fled violence in South Kivu since January, Marta Hurtado, a spokeswoman for the UN rights office, told AFP.

In South Kivu, the displacement has significantly picked up since March, she added.