Death toll from anti-UN protests in DR Congo rises to 15

Congolese demonstrators during a protest against the UN peacekeeping mission Monusco.

Congolese demonstrators during a protest against the UN peacekeeping mission Monusco in Goma on July 26, 2022. 

Photo credit: Michel Lunanga | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The dead include one peacekeeper and two UN police officers.
  • More than 61 other people were injured during the protests targetting the UN peacekeeping mission in North Kivu.

The death toll from the anti-United Nations peacekeeping force protests in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has risen to 15, the government has said.

The dead, according to government spokesman Patrick Muyaya and acting head of the UN Organization Stabilisation Mission in the country (Monusco) Khassim Diagne, include one peacekeeper and two UN police officers.

More than 61 other people were injured during protests that broke out on Monday and continued Tuesday targetting the UN peacekeeping mission in North Kivu.

During a joint press briefing late Tuesday, Muyaya and Diagne said authorities had arrested several protesters, and that an investigation was underway. 

This came even as Goma residents accused Monusco of shooting and killing 12 protesters, a claim Diagne denied. 

"If they had shot at the crowd of demonstrators, we would have had hundreds of deaths. We are the United Nations, we cannot shoot at civilians. This senior official also speaks of a fairly heavy material toll. Valuables, including technological equipment, were taken away," he said.

For the Monusco staff and civilians killed, Diagne said: "Monusco is heartbroken by the death of three colleagues killed in action. We salute their courage and sacrifice. We are also saddened by the deaths of protesters. I reiterate the Mission is in the DRC at the Government invitation to help protect civilians and promote stability.”

Calls for calm

Muyaya called for calm and issued a government pledge to take all possible measures to ensure the security of Monusco personnel and its property. 

"Nothing justifies violence against blue helmets," he said, adding that those responsible will be brought to book.

Diagne also called for efforts to de-escalate tensions.

 "Nothing can be resolved in tensions. We must initiate a new phase to find the solution," he added. 

He spoke after a meeting with DRC Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde.

“We agreed that we should now turn the page and move on to a phase of consolidation, of reinforced cooperation, to a phase of coherence of our common actions on the ground,” he said. 

“I welcome the government's commitment at this level to not only strengthen the security of our installations but also to reassure our civilian and military personnel.”

On Tuesday, UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq told reporters that hundreds of protesters had attacked the mission's base in the city of Goma and other parts of North Kivu province. 

"Mobs are throwing stones and petrol bombs, breaking into bases, looting and vandalising, and setting facilities on fire," Haq added. 

Monusco took over from an earlier UN peacekeeping operation, the UN Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 1, 2010.