Canadian peacekeepers safe and sound after protests in Congo

Canadian peacekeepers safe after protests in Congo

Blue helmets deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The federal government confirmed Tuesday that all Canadian peacekeepers are safe after a second day of protests against the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Department of National Defense and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have both assured that all Canadian personnel in Congo are safe and sound, while the United Nations has reported three deaths of peacekeepers during the clashes.

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At least 15 people have been killed and dozens more injured during two days of protests in eastern Congo against the United Nations mission in the country, officials said Tuesday.

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The UN said a Moroccan peacekeeper and two Indian international policemen serving in the UN peacekeeping force were killed. Additionally, an Egyptian policeman was injured at the UN base in Butembo, North Kivu province, in what UN officials described as several attacks on military bases and facilities. peacekeeping in the country.

Protesters accused the peacekeeping mission of failing to protect civilians amid rising violence in eastern Congo , calling for the departure of UN forces.

Some allegations have surfaced that peacekeepers fired on civilians, prompting UN officials to promise an investigation, while working to protect their facilities and personnel. /p>

The UN said Canada had nine police and eight military officers in Congo as of late March, but the Department of Defense stresses that it does not There are currently only six members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) on site.

All CAF members are safe and sound, with no injuries reported, department spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande said in an email.

Staff of the CAF was not involved in the violence and is currently sheltering on the scene at their home.

RCMP, through Canadian Affairs Canada, said: All Canadian police…accounted for and safe. No details were added.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly condemned the attack in the town of Butembo and the violence targeting several UN bases in North Kivu province since Monday.

Deputy UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Tuesday that hundreds of assailants again attacked bases of the UN force, known by its French acronym MONUSCO, in the city of Goma as well as other parts of North Kivu province fueled by hostile rhetoric and threats made by individuals and groups against the UN, particularly on social media.

Crowds are throwing rocks and petrol bombs, breaking into bases, looting and vandalizing, and setting fire to facilities, Haq said. We are trying to calm things down, including by sending rapid intervention forces, but there is no indication that the violence has ended.

In addition, Mr. Haq mentioned that at least four incidents targeted residences of MONUSCO personnel. They have now been transferred to UN camps. A crowd also tried to enter the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) compound earlier on Tuesday, he said.

On Monday, protesters set fire to and forced entry into offices of the UN mission in Goma, accusing the peacekeeping force of failing to protect civilians amid rising violence in the country. the eastern region of Congo.

Congolese police said at least six people were killed in Goma on Monday and eight civilians in Butembo. Government spokesman Patrick Muyaya said at least five people were killed and around 50 injured on Monday.

Soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) take position after renewed fighting near the Congolese border with Rwanda, outside Goma in the province of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mineral-rich eastern Congo is home to a host of rebel groups and security in the region has deteriorated despite a year of emergency operations by a joint force of armies from the Congo and Uganda. Civilians in the east have also faced violence from jihadist rebels linked to the Islamic State armed group.

In June 2021 and 2022, the peacekeeping mission peace has closed its office in the Congolese regions of Kasai Central and Tanganyika. The mission has more than 16,000 uniformed personnel in Congo, according to the UN.

The protests come as fighting intensified between Congolese troops and rebels from the M23 group, forcing nearly 200,000 people to flee their homes. M23 rebel forces have shown increased firepower and defense capabilities, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

The acting head of the peacekeeping mission , Khassim Diagne, as well as Mr. Haq condemned the killings of UN personnel. Haq said UN peacekeeping chief Jean Pierre Lacroix, who is currently in Mali, will visit Congo at the earliest opportunity.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres reaffirmed the UN's firm commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Congo, as well as the support of the mission peacekeeping mission to the Congolese government and people in their efforts to bring peace and stability to the east of the country.

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