In Congo, UN mission shoots on civilians
For more than 20 years the inhabitants of the northeastern provinces, Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, have lived in an unstable territory, disputed by dozens of armed groups and sometimes infiltrated by Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers. Monusco, present in the country since 1999, is considered ineffective in the fight against armed groups. Hence the discontent that occasionally leads to street demonstrations. Discontent is also addressed to the Congolese government which since May 2021, precisely to combat instability, has placed Ituri and North Kivu in a state of siege.
Yesterday was at lunchtime the Congolese police and armed forces dispersed a crowd of demonstrators in Beni, in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who were trying to reach the UN base on the outskirts of the town. The military exploded bullets in the air, while the policemen fired tear gas. In the meantime, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, deputy secretary of the United Nations, commemorated in the base of Goma, the regional capital, the five blue helmets who fell last week, while Monusco confirmed the arrests of the soldiers of the brigade who had opened fire the day before on civilians at the Kasindi border post.
In fact, on Sunday there were clashes between UN peacekeepers and Congolese civilians who demand the expulsion of the Monusco force from the DRC: the soldiers of the UN peacekeepers have opened fire for inexplicable reasons against civilians on the border with Uganda, in Kasindi, causing the death of three people. The Monusco contingent was arriving in the DRC from Uganda: tensions with civilians arose at the border and the UN military would have decided to open the way by force by firing on people.
The United Nations, in a sad statement, explained that during this incident, the soldiers of the Intervention Brigade of the Monusco force, returning from leave, opened fire at the border post for inexplicable reasons and made their way with the force. This serious accident caused death and serious injuries according to a statement by Bintou Keita, head of Monusco. Videos have circulated on social media showing the scene of the firefight, tweeted the Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege, whose personal escort is organized by the UN blue helmets.:
Horrified by the images of unprecedented and unacceptable violence by UN peacekeepers on the civilian population and on Congolese police officers in Kasindi. We strongly condemn this barbarism and offer our most saddened condolences to the relatives of the victims and ask for justice
Monusco itself defined the behavior of its military as unacceptable and irresponsible and announced that the perpetrators of the shooting have been identified and arrested pending the conclusions of the investigation, already launched in collaboration with the Congolese authorities. Contacts were also initiated with the country of origin of these soldiers so that judicial proceedings can be started urgently, with the participation of victims and witnesses, and exemplary sanctions can be adopted as soon as possible.
Anger against the United Nations takes place in a rapidly deteriorating context: despite the fact that Monusco, with various acronyms, has been present in the country since 1999, 190,000 people have been forced to leave their villages since last March alone, half of which children according to Unicef.