According to a report released by HumanRightsWatch on Thursday, July 30, the human rights NGO, at least 170 people were abducted for ransom near Virunga National Park, “in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, between April 2017 and March 2020.
Between April 2017 and March 2020, criminal gangs were kidnapped “to rescue at least 170 people near Virunga National Park”, a natural and tourist gem located in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a published report,Thursday, July 30, by HumanRightsWatch (HRW).
“Small groups armed with rifles and machetes have beaten, tortured and murdered hostages and raped the women and girls, who make up more than half of them, while using threats to extort money from them. Their families,” the US organization wrote. defend human rights.
The exact number of those abducted and raped “is very likely higher,” the organization said.
The report further states that “victims and families who requested police assistance claimed that the police did not[vait]nothing was done to find those responsible [de ces actes]”.
From December 2019 to the end of June 2020, HRW claims to have interviewed 37 people about the kidnappings, including 28 survivors of sexual violence.
In most of the documented incidents, “abducted women and girls were raped regularly and regularly, several times a day, and sometimes by several men,” according to HRW. According to the report, paid ransoms range from “$ 200 to $ 600 per hostage.”
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, two-thirds of about 80 million people live on less than $ 2 a day. Kidnappings for redemption occur in the provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu (located in the east).
On July 17, a humanitarian aid worker from Médecins sans frontières (MSF) was released after being held hostage for eighteen days in South Kivu by an unidentified armed group.
Virunga Park is located on the border of Rwanda and Uganda and stretches over 7,800 km2in the province of North Kivu, a stronghold of several militias and armed groups of varying importance and engaged in all trade.
The park was closed to tourism between May 2018 and early 2019 after the death of an environmental guard and the kidnapping of two British tourists on 11 May 2018 in an ambush by armed men. The two hostages were released two days later.