African News

DR Congo Demonstrations: Anti-UN Fury Flares Amid War Crime Warning

On the third day of violent anti-UN protests, police and protesters have battled in the eastern area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

According to officials, there have been at least 17 fatalities, including three members of the UN peacekeeping mission.

As many accused the UN of failing to stop the atrocities by armed groups, protests broke out in the town of Goma.

Attacks on the UN mission, which has been present on the ground for more than 20 years, are cautioned to be war crimes.

Two of its bases—in Butembo and Goma—were attacked, and as a result, a third member of the UN force and two Indian peacekeepers were murdered.

Since the fights started on Monday, more than 50 individuals have been hurt. On Wednesday, demonstrators once more targeted nearby UN bases.

According to a spokeswoman, UN Secretary General António Guterres requested that the Congolese government look into the events.

The UN attributed the violence and theft of its belongings on thieves posing as protesters.

It said that they had taken firearms from the local police and started shooting.

 

“Mobs are throwing stones and petrol bombs, breaking into bases, looting and vandalising, and setting facilities on fire,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for Mr Guterres, in a statement.

“The situation is very volatile and reinforcements are being mobilised. Our quick reaction forces are on high alert and have been advised to exercise maximum restraint, using tear gas to disperse protestors and only firing warning shots when UN personnel or property are under attack.”

Congolese soldiers were assisting in guarding UN sites, Mr. Haq continued.

The Monusco peacekeepers, whose force is formally known as such, have been accused of inciting hatred against them by some members of armed organizations, according to local authorities.

The armed M23 movement, the Allied Democratic Force (ADF), a militia linked to the so-called Islamic State, as well as numerous other militias are all being fought by the DR Congo’s army.

The UN’s failure to stop armed groups operating in the mineral-rich east from using violence has angered many people.

“They are tear-gassing us because we came to say that Monusco does not help us,” protester Anselme Musimbwa told the Reuters news agency in Goma on Tuesday.

“They’ve been in Congo for 22 years and nothing works.”

Fellow protester Jack Sinzahera said: “We have our own police that will look after our security and property. We don’t want anything to do with Monusco.”

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UN forces have frequently come under fire from rebels and have been accused of failing to protect civilians—criticism the UN has consistently refuted.

The largest and most well-funded peacekeeping force of the UN, however, faces a significant challenge as a result of the most recent protests.

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