The United Nations Secretary-General has expressed shock at the massacre of civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and called on the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
At least 25 villagers are reported to have been killed in recent attacks attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia in the villages of Tingwe, Mwenda and Nzenga, near Beni territory, in North Kivu province.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson on Wednesday, Secretary-General António Guterres “strongly condemned the violence against the civilian population and calls for the perpetrators of these atrocities to be swiftly brought to justice.”
Silence the guns
Mr. Guterres reiterated his call for a global ceasefire and urged all armed groups to lay down their weapons.
The UN chief also urged the DRC authorities to take concrete steps to address the drivers of conflict in the east of the country.
He also stressed the determination of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (known by its French acronym, MONUSCO) “to continue to do its utmost to ensure the protection of civilians in accordance with its mandate and to support national efforts to consolidate peace and stability in the country.”
Highly volatile region
Roughly the size of western Europe and rich in natural resources, DRC has been plagued by violence and insecurity for years, resulting in widespread poverty and hunger. It has also suffered frequent outbreaks of deadly diseases, including waves of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), now complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The situation in eastern DRC, particularly in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, is highly volatile, with clashes between armed groups over control of territory and natural resources. Civilians have borne the brunt of the conflict, with thousands losing their lives in the last few years.
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia, one of several armed groups in the region, has been active since the 1990’s. It has carried out several attacks against security forces and MONUSCO, including an attack in December 2017, in which 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers lost their lives and 44 others were wounded.