AMMONNEWS - UN investigators in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have confirmed the existence of at least 17 further mass graves in Kasai Central Province, which has been the scene of clashes between soldiers and members of a local militia known as Kamuina Nsapu. This brings to 40 the number of mass graves documented by the UN, According the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The presence of the additional graves was confirmed during an investigation mission to Kasai Central between 5 and 7 April by staff from the UN Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) and UN Police (UNPOL).
"The discovery of yet more mass graves and the reports of continued violations and abuses highlight the horror that has been unfolding in the Kasais over the last nine months," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
"It is absolutely vital that the Government of the DRC takes meaningful steps, which to date have been lacking, to ensure that there is a prompt, transparent, independent investigation to establish the facts and circumstances of alleged human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by all parties, and other abuses of justice.
The UN team gathered information reveal that soldiers from the DRC armed forces (FARDC) had reportedly dug the graves, after clashing with presumed elements of the Kamuina Nsapu militia, OHCHR spokesperson, Liz Throssell said, adding that at least 74 people, including 30 children, were reported to have been killed by soldiers as a result of these clashes.
"FARDC soldiers were reported to have shot dead at least 40 people, including 11 children and 12 women, in the Nganza commune of Kananga, and injured at least 21 others. The majority of the victims were said to have been killed in their homes as soldiers went door to door looking for militia members," she noted.
Also in the statement, High Commissioner Prince Zeid offered his Office's assistance in conducting a credible investigation into the reports and allegations but underscored that it must be provided with unfettered access.
"We reiterate our request for access to all sites of mass graves, as well as to all witnesses, including those in detention, and other relevant information necessary to determine responsibility at all levels," Prince Zeid added.