DR Congo: UN deplores murder of five humanitarian workers
The United Nations today called on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to capture and try those responsible for the murder of five non-governmental organization (NGO) staff in the deadliest ever single assault on humanitarian workers in the vast country.
The five, along with several other people, were killed on Monday in Malinda in the strife-torn east of DRC on the same day that another assault was launched against an NGO in nearby Uvira, the latest in a growing number of attacks in recent weeks targeting humanitarian workers and impeding the delivery of vital aid.
“We deplore with all our energy this aggression and all the other acts which hamper humanitarian work in DRC,” the UN acting coordinator in the country, Pierrette Vu Thi, said in a statement, stressing that it is primarily the Government’s responsibility to protect both Congolese citizens and members of national and international organizations.
“We call on the Government to immediately open an inquiry to find the perpetrators of this odious act so as to bring them to justice,” she added.
The attacks, ranging from extortion to hostage taking to using humanitarian vehicles to carry military equipment, are linked to the persistent fighting in eastern DRC and have aroused a growing sense of vulnerability in humanitarian organizations. Since August there have been 25 such incidents in North Kivu province and 15 in South Kivu, where Malinda and Uvira are located. Since January the two provinces have suffered nearly 140 such attacks.
“This aggression, which plunges the humanitarian family into mourning and causes the utmost alarm, far from diverting us from our vocation, will strengthen even further our resolve to always bring to the least privileged the aid which they need,” Ms. Vu Thi said.
Since 1999 and under various names, the UN has maintained a peacekeeping mission of up to nearly 20,000 uniformed personnel in the DRC to oversee the vast country’s emergence from years of civil war and factional chaos, culminating most notably in 2006 with the first democratic elections in over four decades.
A measure of stability has returned to the country, which is as large as Western Europe, but fighting has continued sporadically in the east, where the bulk of the UN mission, currently known as MONUSCO, is deployed.