By: Brittany Friedel
Due to deteriorating conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the United Nations announced on September 28th that they have deployed peacekeepers to their ongoing mission within the country to prevent further attacks from rebel groups.
Sadly, on October 9th, the UN announced that two of their peacekeepers had been killed and several others were injured in an attack on their base in North Kivu. UN spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said “the injured peacekeepers have been evacuated to Goma for medical assistance.”
The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Mamundioma are suspected of carrying out the morning attack on the 9th of October. Mr. Dujarric said that in response, the UN’s Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (known as MONUSCO) has deployed attack helicopters and the Force Intervention Brigade in order to support operations and reaffirm its presence in the region. Along the road between Kamango and Mbau there are deployed forces in order to restore peace and protect the local population.
These attacks are not new to the region. Since the late 1990s, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations of the UN has been trying to alleviate the unrest in the DRC. The purpose of the mission of course, is to enforce a ceasefire or establish a peace agreement between the Congolese, Ugandan governments and the ADF.
Time and time again, the DRC, Uganda and MONUSCO have been able to damage the ADF; however their financial and recruitment networks seem to remain intact. Each time the ADF seems defeated, they are able to regroup and recruit new members. For example, in between 2007 and 2008 ceasefire and amnesty talks between Uganda and the ADF took place in Nairobi. Some non-combatant members of the ADF were repatriated and granted amnesty. During this time, it seemed that peace was in sight. In 2013 though, the ADF started a recruitment campaign in Kampala and the ADF renewed its fighting in the DRC district of Beni.
Since 2013, the ADF has been responsible for almost weekly attacks in the DRC including the Beni massacre that took place on August 14, 2016, claiming the lives of at least 64 people. While they have only found 64 bodies, Congolese officials believe the death toll is between 75 to 101, with countless others injured. It is estimated that since October 2014, at least 700 civilians have been killed in the Beni region alone, with over 1,150 people being killed and/or kidnapped and thousands more displaced in the North Kivu province due to ADF attacks.
Despite the unrest, MONUSCO continues to stand in support of the DRC Government in an effort to protect the civilian population. Maman Sidikou, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO, stated “We are strongly committed to the protection of civilians, including vulnerable groups such as refugees and displaced people.”