NEW YORK, DECEMBER 8 – At least 15 United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been killed and over 50 injured, in what the Secretary-General António Guterres described as the “worst attack” on UN “blue helmets” in recent history.
Late Thursday, a MONUSCO (the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC) Company Operating Base at Semuliki in Beni territory, North Kivu, was attacked by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) elements, resulting in a protracted fighting between the suspected armed group elements and MONUSCO and Armed Forces of the DRC, known by the French acronym, FARDC.
“These deliberate attacks against UN peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime” said Secretary-General António Guterres, adding: “I condemn this attack unequivocally.” In Rome the Minister for Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano joined the UN in expressing outrage and the strongest condemnation for the “heinous attack”. “MONUSCO is the largest UN peacekeeping mission active in the world”, remarked his deputy Mario Giro said, joining the UN in calling upon the DRC authorities to investigate the incident and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice. And still, as the Undersecretary for peacekeeping operation Jean-Pierre Lacroix and his colleague for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman wrote recently on the Economist, “in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a force of 16,000 peacekeepers cannot alone bring peace to a country the size of Western Europe.”
Guterres said today that “there must be no impunity for such assaults, here or anywhere else.” He called this attack, and similar attacks against peacekeepers, “a war crime”, a position stressed also by the UN Security Council.
The members of the condemned in the strongest terms the attack in which five members of the Armed Forces of the DRC were also killed and all attacks and provocations against MONUSCO by armed groups. They underlined that deliberate attacks targeting peacekeepers “may constitute war crimes under international law”.
Military reinforcements, including the Force Commander from MONUSCO, have arrived on the scene and medical evacuation of casualties is ongoing, while the head of DPKO Jean-Pierre Lacroix will travel soon to North Kivu to bring support and solidarity.
The volatile North Kivu region, located in eastern DRC, has witnessed a number of attacks on UN peacekeeping forces. In October, two UN ‘blue helmets’ were killed and another 18 were injured their base was attacked by the ADF armed group. (@OnuItalia)