The tragedy took place on July 31, in the territory of Beni. In a video of just under two minutes, widely shared on social networks, we can see men, including at least one in police uniform and another in Congolese military fatigues, advancing towards the immobilized UN convoy of the he other side of the closed barrier, in Kasindi, on the border with Uganda. The scene only lasts a few seconds. After a short verbal exchange, we see the Blue Helmets firing shots, before opening the barrier and crossing the post while passers-by run for cover.
“The death toll is two,” said Joël Kitausa, a Kasindi civil society leader, on July 31. The latter also reported 14 wounded. Earlier in the day, Barthélemy Kambale Siva, delegate of the governor of North Kivu in Kasindi, had given a provisional assessment of eight seriously injured including two police officers from the border post.
Monusco was quick to react. In a press release issued in the wake of the tragedy, the head of Monusco, Bintou Keita, said she was “deeply shocked and dismayed by this serious incident”. The UN mission, which did not provide a precise assessment, returned to the facts. “Soldiers from the Monusco Intervention Brigade returning from leave 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 statement said.
The mission, which denounces the “unspeakable and irresponsible behavior” of the perpetrators of the shooting, specifies that the latter “have been identified and arrested pending the conclusions of the investigation which has already begun in collaboration with the authorities. Congolese”. “Contacts have also been established with the country of origin of these soldiers so that legal proceedings can be initiated urgently with the participation of victims and witnesses, so that exemplary sanctions can be taken as soon as possible”, specifies Monusco. , which does not mention the nationality of these blue helmets.
For its part, the Congolese government “condemns and strongly deplores this unfortunate incident, the provisional report of which shows two compatriots dead and 15 others injured”, in a press release from its spokesman Patrick Muyaya published in the evening. Together with Monusco, the authorities “initiated a investigation to establish the responsibilities, to know the motivations of such a crime and to obtain severe sanctions against the Blue Helmets at the base of this tragedy who are, moreover, already under arrest, ”assures the Minister of Communication.
#RDC The Government strongly condemns the incident that occurred at the Kasindi border post. blue helmets @MONUSCO are at a standstill. An investigation is underway to establish responsibilities, find out the motives for such a package and obtain exemplary sanctions. pic.twitter.com/YIvMo7dXJU
— Ministry of Communication and Media/DRC (@Com_mediasRDC) July 31, 2022
“Leave room for others”
Kinshasa, which called on the Congolese population to “calm”, warns that “the blue helmets concerned will no longer be able to be part of the MONUSCO contingents, pending the outcome of the plan to withdraw this UN force from the DRC”.
The tragedy occurs in a particularly tense context. Several demonstrations accompanied by destruction and looting have taken place in recent days in several towns in eastern DRC to demand the departure of the United Nations mission and denounce the ineffectiveness of the Blue Helmets in the fight against the hundred or so armed groups. responsible for the chaos in this region. In Goma, Butembo, Beni and other localities, demonstrators stormed Monusco facilities. Nineteen people, including three peacekeepers, were killed in these violent demonstrations.
DRC: should we put an end to Monusco?
On a visit to the DRC, Jean Pierre Lacroix, head of the UN peace department, said on Saturday that he had come to “talk with the Congolese authorities, examine the means by which we can both prevent these tragic incidents from happening again and above all better working together to achieve our goals”.
“We want the conditions to be met, in particular the return of state authority, so that Monusco can complete its mission as soon as possible and leave room for other forms of international support”, does he have it.