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UN denounces attack on peacekeepers in DR Congo

A helicopter takes off from a MONUSCO base in Beni, North Kivu, for a reconnaissance mission. (file photo)
MONUSCO/Abel Kavanagh
A helicopter takes off from a MONUSCO base in Beni, North Kivu, for a reconnaissance mission. (file photo)

UN denounces attack on peacekeepers in DR Congo

Peace and Security

The United Nations Security Council strongly condemned Monday’s attack on the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in which one Malawian blue helmet was killed.

The attack, which took place near the town of Beni in the restive North Kivu province, was carried out by suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group. 

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In a press statement issued on Monday, Security Council members “condemned in the strongest terms” all attacks and provocations against the UN peacekeeping in the DRC (known by its French acronym, MONUSCO).

They “stressed the importance of MONUSCO having the necessary capacities to fulfil its mandate and promote the safety and security of the UN peacekeepers, pursuant to relevant Security Council resolutions”.

The members also reiterated their full support for the UN force and expressed their deep appreciation to the mission’s troop and police-contributing countries.

In a separate statement, Secretary-General António Guterres also denounced the attack.

He recalled that attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime, and called on the Congolese authorities to investigate the incident and swiftly bring those responsible to justice.

“The Secretary-General reaffirms that the United Nations, through his Special Representative in the DRC, will continue to support the Congolese Government and people in their efforts to bring about peace and stability in the east of the country”, the statement added. 

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 1990s. 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.