Demonstrations in the troubled region erupted on Monday, driven by accusations that MONUSCO (the UN’s peacekeeping force) was failing to act against armed groups.
External affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar said he was “deeply grieved at the loss of lives of two valiant Indian peacekeepers of the BSF in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They were part of the MONUSCO.”
Deeply grieved at the loss of lives of two valiant Indian peacekeepers of the BSF in the Democratic Republic of Con… https://t.co/4r7293NPWI
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) 1658851807000
This is the second day of demonstrations in Congo’s eastern city of Goma against the United Nations mission in the country, a government official said.
Demonstrators on Monday had set fires and forced entry into the UN mission offices in Goma, accusing the peacekeeping forces of failing to protect civilians amid rising violence in Congo’s eastern region. They are calling for the UN forces, present in Congo for years, to leave.
“At least 5 dead, around 50 wounded,” government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said in a tweet, condemning attacks on UN personnel and buildings.
Protesters blamed shots fired by the peacekeepers for the deaths.
The government spokesman didn’t say what caused the deaths but described the response by security forces and peacekeepers as “warning shots to disperse the demonstrators and prevent any attack on the @MONUSCO base and installations,” he said on his Twitter account.
“The government has instructed the security forces to take all measures to ensure a return to calm and the normal resumption of activities in Goma,” he said. He also reiterated that steps are already being taken for the peacekeeping forces to be withdrawn.
In June 2021 and June 2022, the peacekeeping mission known by its French acronym MONUSCO closed its office in Congo’s Kasai Central and Tanganyika regions. The mission has more than 16,000 uniformed personnel in Congo, according to the U.N.
The protests are taking place as fighting has escalated between Congolese troops and the M23 rebels, forcing nearly 200,000 people to flee their homes. The M23 forces have shown increased firepower and defense capabilities, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
Congo’s east is home to myriad rebel groups and the region’s security has worsened despite a year of emergency operations by a joint force of the armies of Congo and Uganda. Civilians in the east have also had to deal with violence from jihadi rebels linked to the Islamic State group. (AP)
(With inputs from agencies)