One dead in fresh anti-UN mission protests in eastern DR Congo

Since July, there have been violent demonstrations against UN peacekeepers who have been accused of using deadly force in retaliation.

A Congolese policeman and a United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) peacekeeper attempt to stop protesters inside the compound of a United Nations peacekeeping force's warehouse in Goma in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo
A Congolese policeman and a peacekeeper from the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) attempt to stop protesters inside the compound of a UN warehouse in Goma, DR Congo on July 25, 2022 [Arlette Bashizi /Reuters]

At least one person has been killed in the eastern Congolese city of Beni as shots were fired during another protest against the United Nations’ MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

The incident happened on Tuesday, a police spokesperson said.

Protesters on motorbikes had gathered and blocked a MONUSCO convoy in Beni – a continuation of violent demonstrations against the mission that have killed dozens, including civilians, peacekeepers and Congolese police elsewhere in eastern DR Congo in recent months.

Thirty-six people, including four UN peacekeepers, were killed in July as hundreds of protesters vandalised and set fire to the mission’s buildings in several cities in the region.

One motorcycle taxi driver was killed when shots broke out, Beni police spokesperson Nasson Katembo said without giving further details about who was responsible for the gunfire.

MONUSCO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The situation was calm by mid-afternoon, a Reuters reporter said.

UN peacekeeping troops have been accused of retaliating with force during the recent protests against them in the eastern cities of Butembo and Goma, which saw hundreds of protesters throw rocks and petrol bombs and set fire to UN buildings.

The protests have been spurred by complaints that the peacekeepers have failed to protect civilians against militia violence that has raged for years. The mission has been deployed to Congo for more than two decades and costs more than $1bn per year.

In August, the DR Congo government expelled MONUSCO spokesman Mathias Gillmann, saying he had made “indelicate and inappropriate” statements that contributed to the tensions between the population and the peacekeepers.

“The Congolese government considers that the presence of this official on the national territory is not likely to promote a climate of mutual trust and calm between Congolese institutions and MONUSCO,” the statement said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies