Over the past three days, several people have lost their lives in demonstrations against the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The demonstrators demand the departure of the UN police officers present on Congolese territory since 1999, whom they accuse of being ineffective.
The presence of the UN mission in the DRC for over 20 years has been strongly contested in recent days by the population. They accuse MONUSCO of being ineffective in the fight against the armed groups operating in the east of the country. Early on Monday, demonstrators stormed the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, to protest against MONUSCO. They split into two groups; one group attacked the local headquarters of the UN mission; the other group attacked its logistics base outside the city centre. After barricading the town’s arteries, they burned tyres and plastic in front of the Monusco gate before climbing the walls and ransacking the premises.
On Tuesday, the demonstrations spread to other towns including Butembo, a major commercial hub in North Kivu, as well as the northern town of Beni, 350km north of Goma. According to RFI, one of the demonstrators said: “For more than 20 years, these forces have remained in our country, but their actions have not produced any results. We want the UN to withdraw its forces from Congo because their presence has not produced any results,” added another demonstrators .
In a joint press conference with the deputy head of the UN mission in Kinshasa, Khassim Diagne, the Congolese government spokesperson, Patrick Muyaya, confirmed the death of fifteen people and reported that 61 were injured in the recent troubles.
We are in the process of taking stock of the damage, which amounts to several hundred thousand dollars,” deplores Khassim Diagne. We are extremely concerned about this very serious incident, which comes on the heels of hostile comments and threats made by individuals against the United Nations, demanding that we leave the DRC. Indeed, on 15 July, the president of the Senate, Modeste Bahati, had asked Monusco to “pack up”.
It should be noted that the Congolese government and MONUSCO have announced the opening of a joint investigation to shed light on these incidents, because “in no case is violence justified”, said Patrick Muyaya, before adding that those responsible would be “prosecuted and severely sanctioned”.