Mr Vanackere: "UN failed to act against rape"

The Belgian Foreign Minister, Steven Vanackere (Flemish Christian democrat), has asked the United Nations to investigate the rape of some 150 women in eastern Congo. The women are thought to have been attacked by Rwandan Hutu militiamen and Mai Mai rebels.

 Belgian International Development, Minister Charles Michel (Francophone liberal), too has condemned the attacks that occurred some 30 kilometres from a post of UN blue berets. The rapes continued for several days.

 Mr Vanackere, who has condemned what he called this "barbaric attack", wants to know why the UN force did not intervene. Mr Michel has asked the UN and the Congolese authorities to launch an enquiry. He also voiced concern about the upsurge in violence in eastern Congo. Rebel forces have set the local population to flight leading to a large new refugee crisis.

Both Belgian ministers stress the importance of the UN force in the region and insist that the blue berets should protect the local population.