DRC’s protests: 15 people killed in Congo’s east amid anti-UN demonstrations
The death toll following the protests against a United Nations peacekeeping force in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo this Tuesday (26 July) rose to 15.
Three members of the MONUSCO mission and at least 12 protesters were killed in two cities of the North Kivu province, according to a UN spokesperson and the Congolese government.
There has been a recent upsurge in violence in the area and locals accuse the UN of being ineffective. Thus, since Monday, demonstrators have been gathering in various cities calling for the UN’s mission in the region to end and for the peacekeepers to leave, claiming they haven’t been able to counter armed groups.The east of DRC remains volatile with more than 100 active rebel groups.
The situation in Butembo, the region’s third city, was chaotic all Tuesday and activities were paralyzed. Hundreds of protesters had surrounded the UN’s logistics base in Goma and attacked the mission’s transit camp outside the city centre.
Congolese security forces have reportedly struggled to contain the crowd and local media said the protesters were shot at by peacekeepers, a claim denied by the UN mission.
MONUSCO’s acting head Khassim Diagne told the media there were “very organized groups… overwhelming our bases, and shooting down our helicopters,“ but stressed that “the UN hasn’t fired at any protesters”.
The 18,000 personnel-strong UN peacekeeping force has been in the country for more than two decades, but critics point out that in that time rebel activity has not ended and people in the region continue to live in a state of insecurity.