June 5, 2009 / 2:01 PM / 9 years ago

UN says 3-year-old rape victim dies in Congo

GENEVA (Reuters) - A three-year-old girl has died after being raped by a rebel fighter in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed forces are committing increasing numbers of sexual attacks, a United Nations spokeswoman said on Friday.

Three of the infant victim’s sisters, aged 12, 14 and 17, were also raped by combatants in the South Kivu region, said Elisabeth Byrs of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“This case represents the barbarity and the horror which is taking place in South Kivu, and is only increasing,” Byrs told a news conference in Geneva, also describing acute risks to aid workers in the area where Congolese and rebel forces are at war.

The top U.N. human rights official, High Commissioner Navi Pillay, said this week that fighting in the eastern region near Rwanda was having “tragic consequences” on civilian bystanders.

She also raised concerns about “horrific levels of sexual attacks” that continue on the sidelines of that conflict between the military and Democratic Forces of the Liberation of Rwanda, whose ranks including leaders of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

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