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Recent rebel attacks in Congo highlight complexity of protecting civilians

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The attacks by the FDLR have been particularly brutal; the local village leader of Kishenya was decapitated and at least one of the victims was a pregnant woman whose baby was cut from her stomach. Enough field researchers reported on insecurity and FDLR violence committed in the summer of 2011. However, the high number of fatalities and the brutality of this most recent attack makes it stand out even in the perennially volatile region.

The civilians’ suffering did not end with the attacks. Because of the remoteness of the area and lack of infrastructure many of the most critically injured civilians remained without medical care for days after the attack. On January 5 The United Nations mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, airlifted 13 of the most severely injured victims to the main hospital in the city of Bukavu. Three days later, the mission evacuated another six severely wounded civilians. Seven of the 19 evacuees are children.

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