Hundreds of Congolese civilians, enraged by violent incursions by Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Ugandan rebels, attacked United Nations posts in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) yesterday, wounding two UN peacekeepers.
The violence erupted during protests in Dungu, Orientale province, against LRA attacks which have uprooted thousands from their homes in many areas within a 90 kilometre radius of Dungu, the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC) said in a news release today.
Hundreds of demonstrators encircled the MONUC observation post, wounding two Blue Helmets from the Moroccan contingent and destroying equipment and material, it added. The crowd also destroyed and plundered the liaison office of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and tried to raid the residence and offices of the territory’s civilian administrator.
MONUC was sending a multidisciplinary team to Dungu today to evaluate the security and humanitarian situation following the displacement of thousands of people by the LRA attacks, as aid agencies fear more serious and massive human rights violations.
“The priority is to carry out fast preliminary investigations on the various violations, to identify the victims and to determine their number, and to collect testimonies of displaced persons around Dungu,” MONUC said in a statement.
MONUC and the DRC army jointly deployed troops to Ituri and Orientale in August to protect civilians after LRA attacks. Since the mid-1980s, the LRA has waged war in northern Uganda against that country’s government and became notorious for its abduction and use of child soldiers during the conflict.
Its fighters have often been based in neighbouring southern Sudan or in north-eastern DRC. The LRA and Uganda have recently signed several peace agreements, raising hopes of a comprehensive accord to formally end the entire conflict.