Goma, DRC/ The Hague, NL, July 28, 2022 – As major protests against the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continue in cities across the eastern part of the country, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) is calling all parties to act with restraint and avoid further violence. CIVIC deplores the death of at least 12 civilians and three UN peacekeepers.
“The right to peaceful protest is vital and ought to be respected and protected,” said Daniel Levine-Spound, CIVIC’s DRC-based Peacekeeping Researcher. “But the violence over the past few days is likely to make a bad situation even worse. Further confrontations will not be the answer to the major security and protection challenges in eastern Congo.”
Earlier this week, protests erupted in Goma in front of the several bases of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). Demonstrations also took place in the cities of Beni, Butembo and Uvira, as well as several smaller towns. Demonstrators have accused MONUSCO of failing to protect civilians from the more than one hundred armed groups currently operating across eastern DRC. Demonstrations were also explicitly encouraged by leading Congolese political figures calling for MONUSCO’s departure.
“While we are deeply concerned by recent violence, it is important to recognize the context in which these demonstrations have taken place,” said Levine-Spound. “For years, civilians in eastern DRC have contended with devastating cycles of violence and egregious human rights abuses. The frustration is palpable and understandable. At the same time, politicians who encourage violence against MONUSCO only contribute to broader insecurity.”
Despite a series of government-led initiatives to stop the violence, armed groups continue to commit regular massacres against civilians. Thousands of civilians have been killed or injured in armed attacks in recent years while more than 5.6 million people are internally displaced across the DRC. Recent events are taking place in a broader climate of impunity, in which perpetrators often face little or no accountability for violations of international law on Congolese soil.
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