On the third day of violent anti-UN protests, police and protesters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s east have engaged in combat. 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 have been present on the ground for more than 20 years, are cautioned to be war crimes.
What this means
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 start of the conflicts on Monday, more than 50 persons have sustained injuries. The UN attributed the violence and theft of its belongings to thieves posing as protesters.
It said that they had taken firearms from the local police and started shooting.
Farhan Haq, a deputy spokesperson for Mr. Guterres, said in a statement, “mobs are throwing stones and petrol bombs, storming into bases, looting and vandalizing, and setting facilities on fire.”
“Since the situation is so unstable, troops are being called in. Our quick response units are on high alert. They have been instructed to use the utmost caution, dispersing protesters with tear gas and only firing warning shots when UN personnel or property are being attacked.”
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.
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.