Monday, December 4

UN blue helmets open fire and cause deaths at a Congo border post

A convoy of blue helmets from the United Nations opened fire today at a border post between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda, confirmed today the UN mission in the country (MONUSCO), which admitted that the incident caused deaths, that he did not quantify, at a time marked by tense protests calling for his withdrawal.

“Soldiers from the Intervention Brigade of the MONUSCO force who were returning from a permit opened fire at the border post (in Kasindi, in the northeastern province of North Kivu) for unexplained reasons and forced their way through,” he acknowledged. the organization in a statement released this Sunday.

“This serious incident caused loss of human lives and serious injuries,” lamented MONUSCO, without specifying a figure, whose chief, Bintou Keita, declared herself “deeply shocked and dismayed.”

According to the international mission, those responsible for the shooting were arrested and contacts were established with their country of origin -which they did not reveal- so that a “judicial process” could be initiated.

The incident occurs in the midst of a crisis after the popular protests unleashed this week in several cities in the northeast of the DRC to demand the withdrawal of the mission after more than two decades of activity, accusing it of inefficiency in the fight against the armed groups that plague that region.

The protests began on Saturday and ended on Monday in the assault and looting of some UN facilities in the city of Goma, capital of North Kivu, to later spread to other towns such as Butembo or Uvira (the latter in neighboring Kivu from the south).

According to official data, at least 15 people died, 12 civilians and three members of the mission (a Moroccan soldier and two Indian policemen, according to the UN), while civil society groups speak of 27 dead and 58 wounded.

Precisely this weekend, the UN Undersecretary General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, traveled to the country to address this crisis.

“We want the conditions to be met so that MONUSCO can complete its mission and make room for other forms of international support,” the senior official said last night from Kinshasa.

The country’s president, Félix Tshisekedi, lamented the deaths this Friday and confirmed that “a progressive withdrawal plan” of MONUSCO is underway by 2024.

The mission – whose mandate was renewed for another year by the UN Security Council in December 2021 – withdrew its troops from the eastern province of Tanganyika last June after the reduction of violence in that area.

The east of the DRC has been plunged since 1998 into a conflict fueled by rebel militias and attacks by Army soldiers, despite the presence of MONUSCO, which has some 14,000 troops.