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Congo: Protesters storm UN base in Beni

November 25, 2019

Residents in a town in the Democratic Republic of Congo's say the UN MONUSCO mission is doing nothing to protect them from rebel attacks. The UN mission and Congo's military will launch joint operations in response.

Smoke from the United Nations compound rises in Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/0AP Photo/A.-H. K. Maliro

Protesters in Beni, a town in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), stormed UN peacekeeping buildings and set fire to the town hall on Monday.

The citizens were protesting the UN mission's failure to protect them after eight people were killed and nine people kidnapped overnight by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels.

Several hundred protesters stormed a compound of the UN MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in the DRC, with reports of looting and vehicles being set on fire.

The camp is said to have been evacuated before the protesters arrived.

Police confirmed the protesters had earlier torched the mayor's office.

At least two people were killed by gunshots during the protest, according to Safari Kazingufu, Beni police commander, speaking to the Reuters news agency.

Tweets from those in the region, including German publication TAZ's foreign and Africa editor, appear to show people breaking into the MONUSCO compound over fences.

Read more: Small airliner crashes into homes in Goma, DR Congo

MONUSCO 'utterly failing' to protect people

A UN-peacekeeping armored personal carrier drives on a  dirt road
Protesters and aid-workers are united in saying the MONUSCO mission is failing the residents of the eastern DRCImage: Reuters/File Photo/O. Oleksandr

Protesters, aid-workers and society leaders were united in saying the MONUSCO mission was failing the region.

"Residents are demanding the withdrawal of MONUSCO from Beni because of the inaction of UN forces," said Teddy Kataliko, a civil society leader in Beni.

"We are killed while MONUSCO is here to protect us. Let them go home. We do not need tourists in our country," Kasereka Fundi, a protester, told the AP news agency.

"At the moment, the security and UN forces are utterly failing in their obligation to protect people living in Beni" and elsewhere in Congo," said Seif Magango, Amnesty International's deputy director for East Africa, in a statement.

MONUSCO, Congo military to join forces

The demonstrations appeared to be successful — the presidential twitter account later announced the DR Congo military and UN peacekeepers will set up an advanced headquarters in Beni, following an emergency meeting.

The MONUSCO account had earlier released a series of tweets stating that it had not been invited by Congo's military to participate in an offensive against the ADF launched late last month.

ADF fighters have repeatedly attacked Beni residents over the past days. The ADF formed in Uganda in 1995 and the deaths of more than 1,500 people have been attributed to the force over the past five years.

The killings and violence has continued, despite MONUSCO replacing an earlier UN mission in the region in 2010.

On its website, MONUSCO states that it has been "authorized to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate relating, among other things, to the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders under imminent threat of physical violence."

kmm/ng (AFP, AP,  Reuters)

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