- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2003

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) A U.N. team is investigating reports that Congolese rebel troops have killed and eaten Pygmies in northeastern Congo, a U.N. official said.
"The U.N. is taking these accusations very seriously," said Manodje Mounoubai of the U.N. Observer Mission in Congo.
The six-person team has been in the province of Ituri for the past week, looking into the accusations that forces of the rebel Congolese Liberation Movement and its allied Congolese Rally for Democracy-National killed and ate Pygmies in the dense tropical forests.
Speaking by telephone from the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, Mr. Mounoubai declined to give further information until investigators leave the area.
Other U.N. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said investigators have established that the charges are credible.
The two rebel factions often hire Pygmies to hunt food for them in the forests as they fight to oust the rival rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation from mineral-rich areas of Ituri province, a U.N. official said.
If the expert hunters return empty-handed, rebel troops kill and eat them, the official said.
The Program for Aid to Pygmies in Beni, a Congolese advocacy group, called for help for the Pygmies, who it said were "threatened with extinction."
"It is unacceptable that the international community focuses on protecting endangered animals like the okapi, the mountain gorilla and the rhinoceros and pays no attention to the fate of human beings like the Pygmies, who are nevertheless every bit as much in danger of extinction," the group stated.
Pygmies, not all of whom are below average height, are believed to be the earliest inhabitants of Central Africa. An estimated 600,000 live in Congo.
Nearly all foreign troops involved in the war in Congo have withdrawn, but fighting has intensified among the country's main rebel factions, splinter groups and tribal fighters.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide