UN peacekeepers, DRC Army hike patrols near deadly attack on IDP site
United Nations (New York): UN peacekeepers and troops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) increased patrols near the site of last week’s deadly raid on internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northeast Ituri province, a UN spokesman has said.
“Our peacekeeping colleagues there tell us that tensions remain high in the Ituri province following last week’s attack on the site for displaced people in Savo, 8 km southeast of Djugu,” said Stephane Dujarric, the Chief Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, on Tuesday. “There are reported movements of displaced people between Savo and Bule.”
Guterres strongly condemned the February 1 raid, which claimed the lives of at least 58 civilians and injured 36, Xinhua news agency reported.
The UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known by its French acronym as MONUSCO, exchanged fire with members of the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) militia on Sunday, Dujarric said. The clash occurred during an operation to cordon and search in the Uzi area of Ituri province.
They forced the assailants to flee the area, he added. Bullets hit two armored vehicles, but no peacekeepers were injured.
“We continue to engage with the Governor of Ituri to find ways to address the situation,” the Spokesman said. “Our human rights colleagues have also expressed their concerns about the situation there.”
The Savo attack is the latest in a string of devastating raids by CODECO on sites for displaced people in Ituri, where ethnic tensions between the Hema and the Lendu communities have existed for years, he added, citing his UN colleagues. There are significant risks militias could attack other sites hosting displaced people.
“Our human rights colleagues also call on the authorities to strengthen the protection of civilians and to ensure the safety of displaced people,” Dujarric said.