AFRICA/DR CONGO - Bishops after the serious incidents with the UN peacekeepers: "Anger is understandable, but violence is never tolerable"

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 bishops   un   violence  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - Tensions continue in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo between the local population and the UN Blue Helmets of the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), after the assaults that began on July 25, against United Nations bases in Goma and in others city of North Kivu, with a toll of at least 15 dead: 3 UN peacekeepers and 12 demonstrators.
Yesterday, August 1, the Congolese police and army fired tear gas to disperse at least a hundred people who had attempted to storm the MONUSCO base in Beni.
After being dispersed, the demonstrators paralyzed the city with barriers erected on the main arteries that prevented the movement of vehicles and motorcycles. In the nearby province of South Kivu, dozens of protesters who tried to block the road leading to Uvira near Sange were dispersed by the police. The Congolese Episcopal Conference (CENCO) in a statement signed by its President, His Exc. Mgr. Marcel Utembi Tapa, Archbishop of Kisangani, affirms that he "understands the anger of the Congolese" due to the limits imposed by the Congolese army and MONUSCO in the face of the insecurity that has plagued the east of the DRC for over 20 years.
However, CENCO strongly condemns any recourse to violence. "Peaceful demonstration is a right recognized to every citizen by international agreements and by the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Congo". "On the other hand, the use of violence or looting constitutes an act that can only amplify or perpetuate evil as well as the suffering of the populations", say the Bishops who are calling for an investigation into the incidents.
The Bishop of Butembo-Beni, His Exc. Mgr. Melchisédech Sikuli Paluku, who met the population of Butembo in full revolt, said in an interview with a Catholic radio that "we can also imagine the worst. When the glass is full, it would not be surprising if one day we saw the whole city rebel, including the most unsuspected people" . "The population must not be forced to do this", says Msgr. Paluku, suggesting an agreement between the UN and the Congolese State.
Protesters accuse MONUSCO of being ineffective in containing the violence caused by armed groups raging in eastern DRC. It is a fact that since 2006, the year in which the UN force was deployed, the number of armed groups in the region has risen from a few dozen to 120 to date. MONUSCO is made up of 14,000 soldiers and costs one billion dollars a year. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 2/8/2022)