MONUSCO is one of the largest and costliest UN missions in the world. Present in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1999, it currently has more than 14,000 soldiers.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said to himself ” outraged” at the death of two people on Sunday when peacekeepers opened fire on a border crossing with Uganda in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a video of the incident posted on social media, men, including at least one in police uniform and another in Congolese military uniform, are seen advancing towards the immobilized convoy of the ;other side of the closed barrier in Kasindi, Beni territory, on the border with Uganda.
After a verbal exchange, the alleged peacekeepers are seen firing shots before opening the barrier and going through the post.
Soldiers from the MONUSCO Intervention Brigade […] opened fire at the border post for unexplained reasons and forced their way through. This serious incident caused loss of life and serious injuries, the UN mission deplored in a press release.
The toll is two dead, said Joël Kitausa, an official from Kasindi Civil Society, which also reported 14 injuries.
Mr. Guterres stresses in the strongest terms the need to establish responsibility for these events and approves the detention of the military personnel implicated in this incident as well as the immediate opening of an investigation , said a deputy spokesman for the secretary-general, Farhan Haq, in a statement.
The head of MONUSCO, Bintou Keita, said she was deeply shocked and dismayed by this serious incident, according to the mission statement.
“Faced with this unspeakable and irresponsible behavior, the perpetrators of the shooting have been identified and [arrested] pending the conclusions of the investigation which has already begun in collaboration with the Congolese authorities.
— Head of MONUSCO Bintou Keita
Contacts have also been established with the country of origin of these soldiers so that legal proceedings can be instituted urgently with the participation of victims and witnesses so that exemplary sanctions can be taken as soon as possible, added the UN mission without mentioning the nationality of these peacekeepers.
The DRC government strongly condemns and deplores this unfortunate incident, assured its spokesman, Patrick Muyaya.
Together with MONUSCO, the authorities have opened an investigation to establish responsibilities, to find out the motivations for such a crime and to obtain severe sanctions against the peacekeepers behind this drama, he confirmed.
Kinshasa, who called on the Congolese population to calm down, warns that the Blue Helmets concerned will no longer be able to be part of the MONUSCO contingents until the culmination of the plan to withdraw this UN force from the DRC.
Last week, deadly demonstrations accompanied by destruction and looting took place in several towns in eastern DRC to demand the departure of the United Nations.
In Goma , Butembo, Beni and other localities, demonstrators stormed MONUSCO facilities. As many as 19 people, including three peacekeepers, were killed in these violent protests.
The demonstrators accused the Blue Helmets of ineffectiveness in the fight against the hundreds of armed groups responsible for the chaos in which the eastern provinces of the country have been plunged for almost 30 years.
One of the largest and most expensive UN missions in the world, MONUSCO has been present in the DRC since 1999. It currently has over 14,000 peacekeepers with an annual budget of ;one billion dollars.
Visiting the DRC, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, head of the UN peace operations department, said on Saturday that he had come to speak with the Congolese authorities and to examine the means by which we can both prevent a recurrence of these tragic incidents and above all work better together to achieve our objectives.
We want the conditions to be together, including the return of state authority, so that MONUSCO can completing its mission as soon as possible and giving way to other forms of international support, he said.