One injured, 10 arrests in anti-UN demo in DR Congo

Wednesday November 27 2019
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Crowds confront United Nations peacekeepers in a UN compound on the outskirts of the eastern DR Congo town of Beni on November 25, 2019. FILE PHOTO | USHINDI MWENDAPEKE | AFP


A student was injured and 10 other people were arrested on Wednesday in renewed protests in eastern DR Congo at perceived UN failures to combat a notorious armed group, an AFP journalist saw.

Police used teargas to break up a demonstration outside the university in Goma, one of two cities in the province of North Kivu where public anger has boiled over.


Dozens of civilians in and around the town of Beni have been killed by a notorious but shadowy group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), since DR Congo's army launched an offensive against it on October 30.

The mounting toll has caused people to take to the streets, accusing the authorities and the UN's peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO, of inaction.

On Monday, a crowd stormed one of the two UN camps near Beni and set fire to one of its offices.


Six people have been killed in the protests since Monday.

"Our demonstration is patriotic. MONUSCO is standing on the sidelines as the massacres unfold, when its chief mission is to protect civilians," one of the demonstrators in Wednesday's protest, law student Fiston Muhindo, told AFP.

"They have to go. MONUSCO is serving no purpose," said fellow law student Junior Mastaki, adding that the Congolese authorities were "incapable" of protecting the public.

Eighty-one people in the Beni region have been killed since November 5, according to a not-for-profit organisation, the Congo Research Group (CRG).


It says the ADF -- a group of Ugandan origin that has plagued eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the mid-1990s -- has killed more than a thousand civilians since October 2014.

MONUSCO, one of the biggest UN peacekeeping operations in the world, today comprises more than 16,500 military personnel and observers, 1,300 police and at least 4,000 civilians.

But it has struggled to make headway in a vast country beset by armed groups as well as entrenched poverty and poor governance.

It has pointed out that its troops are unable to deploy against armed groups without the approval of the host country and in coordination with national forces.

On Monday, the Congolese armed forces told AFP that it had taken "all of (ADF's) strongholds and headquarters" in the forests around Beni.

The same day, the president's office announced the DRC and UN peacekeepers would launch "joint operations" to beef up security in Beni, and the Congolese army would establish an "advance headquarters" in the town.