Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the killing of a Tanzanian peacekeeper and the wounding of 10 others in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Wednesday during an attack against the M23 rebel group in the vast country’s restive eastern province.
“The Secretary-General deplores in the strongest terms the killing and wounding of UN peacekeepers,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement issued last night. “He offers his sincere condolences and sympathy to their families and to the Governments of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Republic of South Africa.”
The attack occurred in the Kibati heights in North Kivu as the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) supported action by Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) to protect civilian-populated areas of Goma.
The Mission has delivered mortar and artillery fire and engaged its attack helicopters, while the FARDC has used attack helicopters, battle tanks and ground forces. The operation is still ongoing.
“The United Nations remains committed to taking all necessary actions in line with Security Council resolution 2098 (2013) to protect civilians in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the statement read.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, also expressed his outrage by the killing of the peacekeeper. “He sacrificed his life to protect civilians in Goma. My thoughts go to his family and all members of his unit in this very difficult moment,” he said.
Over the past year, the M23, along with other armed groups, have clashed repeatedly with the FARDC. The rebels briefly occupied Goma in November 2012. The fighting resumed in recent weeks, this time dragging in a group of Ugandan-based rebels, and displaced more than 100,000 people, exacerbating the region’s ongoing humanitarian crisis, which includes 2.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 6.4 million in need of food and emergency aid.
On 28 March this year the Security Council authorized the establishment of the intervention brigade to carry out targeted offensive operations, with or without the FARDC, against armed groups that threaten peace in eastern DRC. At the same time the Security Council called on the M23 to cease immediately all forms of violence and destabilizing activities and for its members to immediately and permanently disband and lay down their arms.
The strengthening of the MONUSCO mandate with the intervention brigade is designed to further support the political objectives of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region – a peace deal signed in February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.