The United Nations’ beleaguered peacekeeping mission in Congo, which costs more than a billion dollars a year but has failed to stop widespread violence against civilians, has been harshly criticized since the news broke 10 days ago that United Nations peacekeepers did not respond to a rebel attack in which nearly 200 women were raped.
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.
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Over the three days [following the email], from July 30 to Aug. 2, hundreds of F.D.L.R., along with gunmen from another rebel group, raped at least 179 women.
F.D.L.R. is the acronym for Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, described as "a fearsome rebel group that includes former Rwandan genocidaires who have been hiding out in Congo for years and preying upon the local population." According to the NYTimes story, many women were gang raped in the presence of their families.