On the eve of a Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a quarterly report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres deplores a sharp increase in violence in the east of the country, with at least 700 civilians murdered by militia groups since December.
"The security situation deteriorated further in the three eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a steep surge in violence," the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says in a quarterly report on the situation in the mineral-rich but unstable DRC.
He said the violence was committed mainly by members of the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist-aligned group; a notorious militia called CODECO, the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo; and M23 insurgents, mainly former rebels who mutinied after they were integrated into the Congolese army at the end of the Kivu war of 2009.
Guterres also expressed concern over human rights violations, saying that at least 628 people had died in extrajudicial or summary killings by armed groups around the country, not just in the three provinces of the east.
- Villagers hacked to death in suspected ethnic dispute in western DRC
- M23 rebels clash with DR Congo troops despite regional ceasefire
Fourteen villagers were killed in Bagata territory earlier this month, in an upsurge of inter-ethnic violence in western DRC.
It is not clear how many of these deaths were included in the 700-plus fatalities reported in the secretary-general's report.
Kinshasa and several Western governments say the M23 rebels are backed by Rwanda with a view to profiting from the region's natural resources, a claim denied by Kigali.
Guterres said he was worried about a rise in hate speech exacerbated by M23 violence and tension between the DRC and Rwanda.
"I am also alarmed by the escalating tensions between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. I encourage both sides to settle their differences through dialogue and existing conflict resolution mechanisms," Guterres said.