World · August 4, 2022

DRC anti-UN protests: that’s what’s behind it

Since July 25, anti-UN protests have raged in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 36 people – including four peacekeepers – dead and 170 injured on Wednesday, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo told CNN.

Protesters are calling for the withdrawal of UN forces from the Central African country for failing to hold back rebel groups in the east that have engineered lethal attacks on civilians.

In another Sunday shooting, two UN soldiers were accused of shooting at an open border post between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing two people and injuring 15 others, he told CNN on Monday. a spokesman for the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Yesterday (Sunday) there was an incident on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said the Minister of Communications of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and government spokesman Patrick Muyaya.

The United Nations brigade in Congo opened fire at the border post, killing two people

“Some UN peacekeepers returned from vacation and when they got to the border, the immigration service (DRC) told them to come back after three days … because right now there is a lot of pressure in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But they decided to force their way and started shooting. Two people died and 15 people were injured. “

The MONUSCO force in a statement described the actions of its personnel involved in the shooting as “unspeakable and irresponsible behavior,” adding that the officers had been arrested and investigated.

“Contacts have also been established with the country of origin of these soldiers to initiate urgent legal proceedings with the participation of victims and witnesses …”, adds the statement.
In 2010, MONUSCO replaced a previous UN operation called MONUC, which was set up to help bring peace and stability to the DRC.
What began as a “small observation mission” in 1999 with a small deployment of 90 soldiers, transformed into the “largest and most robust operation of the UN” and in 2000 the UN Security Council had authorized more than 5000 military for the MONUC force to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
As of November last year, MONUSCO had over 12,000 soldiers and more than 1,600 police officers deployed in the DRC.

Why are people angry?

Muyaya said the DRC public was disenchanted with the UN peacekeeping force for not securing the country.

The DRC has been grappling with decades of militia violence as state forces struggled to rein in rebel groups. Fighting between government troops and the M23 rebel group, which seeks control of the country from its stronghold in eastern DRC, has resulted in many deaths and thousands of displaced people.

“People are angry and tired of the UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo because they have been here for 20 years, but the security situation hasn’t changed much,” he said.

At least 29 civilians were killed by M23 between June and July of this year, according to Human Rights Watch.

The deadly militia also controls several towns and villages in North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the human rights group said in a report.
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Reacting to the anti-UN protests, Khassim Diagne, deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General, said in a series of tweet that MONUSCO never said it was the solution to the security crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“MONUSCO has never claimed to be the panacea to the security problems of the DRC. We work in support of the state to protect and bring stability,” Diagne wrote.

In another tweet, Diagne said that a misunderstanding about MONUSCO led to “excessive expectations”.

“We need to communicate better. Many people misunderstand the United Nations, the Security Council and MONUSCO. This leads to excessive expectations, suspicion and forgetfulness of the results achieved,” he tweeted, adding that the MOUNSCO force had already withdrawn from eight provinces in the country. Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Every day MONUSCO protects communities, strengthens provincial capacities, conducts investigations, separates children from armed groups and funds projects,” Diagne said, citing the findings of the United Nations force.

What time?

Thomas Fessy, a senior DRC researcher for Human Rights Watch, told CNN that demonstrations against the UN mission have taken place over the past decade, but have escalated due to a never-ending cycle of violence in eastern Europe. DRC.

Congolese policemen watch as demonstrators pull a container used to barricade the road near the warehouse complex of a United Nations peacekeeping force in Goma, North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 26, 2022.

“The attacks and killings are relentless, the movement of people is higher than ever, so people question MONUSCO’s ability to protect civilians and help defeat a myriad of armed groups,” added Fessy. “The frustration and anger of the Congolese people at the UN mission should not be overlooked.”

Government spokesman Muyaya added that the protests are also driven by comments made in June by MONUSCO spokesman Mathias Gillmann that UN forces do not have enough equipment to fight M23.

“The UN spokesperson here released a statement saying the UN is unable to fight M23 … and he was explaining that M23 has modern weapons,” Muyaya said.

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo ordered Gillmann’s expulsion from the country on Wednesday, accusing him of making “indelicate and inappropriate” statements that exacerbated tensions between MONUSCO and the Congolese people.
In a briefing in June, the representative of the UN Secretary-General in the DRC and head of MONUSCO, Bintou Keita, told the UN Security Council that the security situation in the eastern region of the DRC has deteriorated due to intense attacks by M23 and other armed groups.

Keita said such attacks were capable of overwhelming MONUSCO.

“If M23 were to continue its well-coordinated attacks against the FARDC (the armed forces of the DRC) and MONUSCO with increasing conventional capabilities, the Mission could face a threat beyond its current capabilities,” he said. .

Keita added that in recent clashes the M23 fought as “a conventional army” rather than as an armed group.

“The M23 has increasingly sophisticated firepower and equipment … in addition to accuracy on aircraft … The threat this poses to the population and the UN peacekeepers they are mandated to protect is obvious. “.

CNN has contacted the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for further comment.

A year to evacuate the UN troops

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has gradually withdrawn its soldiers from the troubled country for years.

In 2010, the UN Security Council decided to withdraw 2,000 peacekeepers from the DRC following pressure from then President Joseph Kabila who had called for the complete withdrawal of UN fighters from the country.

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo under current President Felix Tshisekedi said it was working with the United Nations on a withdrawal plan.

Government spokesman Muyaya told CNN that the government agrees with citizens on the complete withdrawal of UN troops from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it could take up to a year to evacuate all of them.

“As a government, we are on the same level with our people, but the difference is that we are working with MONUSCO on a plan for their withdrawal. We have been working on it since September last year. Even if we decide to end our partnership with them today, it will take at least six to nine months or maybe a year to make sure they are gone. “

Muyaya added that the government was under pressure to quickly handle the situation. However, the DRC is expected to come under increased pressure following the UN evacuation as its forces take on militia groups in a solo effort.

Muyaya said the DRC government was also working on security reform to build a formidable army.

“We are collaborating with MONUSCO on a transitional plan. We are preparing them to leave, at the same time we are making sure we do a good reform to make sure we have an army that can handle all the security problems in the country,” he said. said.