UN chief condemns attack on peacekeepers in DRC

The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack that left 8 peacekeepers injured in eastern DR Congo during clashes between the powerful M23 rebel movement and Government troops.

The clashes occurred just 20 kilometers from Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu, the UN said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General recalls that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law. He wishes a speedy recovery to those peacekeepers injured in today’s attack,” the UN statement said.

Guterres urged all Congolese and foreign armed groups to lay down arms immediately and engage in the disarmament process.

He also called on the M23 to withdraw from all occupied areas and abide by the provisions of the Luanda communiqué of 23 November 2022.

The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo must be fully respected, he said.

The peacekeepers had been deployed for several weeks as part of Operation Springbok in the restive North Kivu area, working jointly with Government troops in military operations meant to combat various militant factions, including the M23 rebel movement.

In a similar statement, Bintou Keita, head of UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), denounced the attack, expressing deep concern over the safety of peacekeepers in the area.

Keita reiterated MONUSCO’s steadfast commitment to collaborate closely with Congolese defense and security forces to enhance both joint and independent patrols. These efforts are designed to safeguard civilian populations in the conflict-affected areas.

The UN Secretary-General and his Special Representative reaffirmed MONUSCO’s resolve to further implement its protection of civilians’ mandate from the Security Council and work alongside Congolese defense and security forces to reinforce joint and unilateral patrols to protect civilians.