New York, US - The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is sheltering more than 400 people following fighting between national troops and an armed group, a UN statement in New York said on Thursday.
“The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) reports that, earlier on Wednesday, near its base in Kitchanga, North Kivu, heavy fighting took place,” the statement indicated.
It said that, “the situation remains tense following the clashes between Congolese armed forces and elements of the Alliance des Patriotes pour un Congo Libre et Souverain (APCLS), an armed group”.
It disclosed that at least one civilian was killed and nine other people injured, including one of its peacekeepers, who was shot in the arm and remains in stable condition.
The statement also noted that, “the sheltering of civilians at its base in Kitchanga falls within the Mission’s mandated role to protect civilians, defend human rights and support provisions of humanitarian aid”.
Nearly a million people have been displaced in North Kivu by clashes between DRC’s national army and fighters from the rebel M23 group, and in recent weeks, more than 300,000 people have been displaced by additional fighting in the south-eastern province of Katanga.
The M23 rebels are former DRC army troops who mutinied in April 2012, and named themselves after a 23 March 2009 peace agreement that they reportedly say has not been implemented.
To assist MONUSCO ‘blue helmets’ in protecting civilians, the UN Security Council is currently considering a military brigade with peace enforcement authorities beyond traditional UN peacekeeping.
PANA learnt that a decision is expected after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefs the Council next week on recent developments related to the DRC, including the signing of a UN-backed peace framework on 24 February whereby regional countries honour DRC’s sovereignty, and work in support of its stabilization.