I picked this up yesterday via Women’s eNews on Twitter, and I’m glad to see it’s now getting some coverage in the msm. Apparently the original claim that the UN did nothing to prevent or intervene in the horrendous rapes of women and children in Luvungi in the Eastern Congo a couple of weeks ago because “they didn’t know it was happening” is wrong: UN officials did in fact know what was going on, they just chose to ignore it.

The New York Times reported yesterday:

“According to an e-mail sent within United Nations agencies on July 30, as the attack was unfolding, United Nations officials knew that the rebels had infiltrated the area and that at least one woman had been raped.

“The town of Mpofi, 52 kilometers from Walikale, has just fallen into the hands of the F.D.L.R. A woman was raped there,” said the e-mail, which was sent by the United Nations’ humanitarian office in eastern Congo to several other United Nations agencies and private aid groups. “Humanitarian workers are said not to go there,” the e-mail continued.”

Now the Guardian is reporting that:

“Community leaders begged UN officials for protection days before rebels raped more than 240 villagers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, they claimed yesterday.

The attacks took place over several days, with victims ranging from a month-old baby boy to a 110-year-old great-great-grandmother.

The number of reported rapes between 30 July and 4 August has grown from initial figures of 179 and now stands at 242.

I understand Nanjala Nyabola’s argument on CiF the other day that it’s too easy to blame the UN for this atrocity, when it is in fact “the evolution of a conflict that has been ignored and allowed to fester over decades with little interest until fairly recently.” Although I would add that while it’s easy to blame the UN, the only ones who can really be blamed for the rapes are the men themselves, the ones who chose to rape.

However, I think in light of these more recent revelations it’s fair to say the UN, once again, has got a lot of explaining to do. UN forces may not be responsible for the rapes, but by the looks of it they’re certainly responsible for not doing enough to prevent them.

For more on the appalling situation for women in the Congo, the following link is well worth a click:

Eve Ensler Reads “Congo Cancer: My Cancer Is Arbitrary. Congo’s Atrocities Are Very Deliberate”.