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26.11.2019 Congo

UN condemns attacks on civilians and on UN base in DRCongo

By AFP
This frame grab taken from video footage shows crowds as they confront United Nations (UN) peackeepers in a UN compound on the outskirts of the eastern DRCongo town of Beni on November 25, 2019: protesters accused the UN troops of failing to protect them from armed militias who have killed hundreds.  By Ushindi Mwendapeke Eliezaire (AFP)
NOV 26, 2019 CONGO
This frame grab taken from video footage shows crowds as they confront United Nations (UN) peackeepers in a UN compound on the outskirts of the eastern DRCongo town of Beni on November 25, 2019: protesters accused the UN troops of failing to protect them from armed militias who have killed hundreds. By Ushindi Mwendapeke Eliezaire (AFP)

The UN Security Council on Tuesday condemned attacks against civilians and a UN base in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where locals accused the blue helmets of failing to protect them against deadly militia violence.

Speaking at a closed meeting on recent anti-UN riots that left six people dead in Beni in the east of the country, the acting president of the council, British ambassador Karen Pierce, said the UN mission's mandate "has in it the requirement to protect civilians."

She also called for "the mitigation of risks to civilians in offensive operations" conducted by local security forces and UN troops.

Concerns have grown over unrest in the region and the consequences that the violence could have on UN efforts to counter an Ebola epidemic.

But Pierce also reiterated that "peaceful protests, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly are basic human rights."

On Monday, rioters in Beni attacked a UN base in anger at their "inaction" after the killing of almost 80 people in the past month, deaths which were blamed on an armed group calling itself the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

The ADF is accused of having killed hundreds, and perhaps more than 1,000, people in the Beni region since October 2014.

The ADF began as an Islamist rebellion hostile to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

It fell back into eastern DRC in 1995 and has recruited people of different nationalities, but appears to have halted raids inside Uganda.

The Beni protests forced health workers to "put on hold" local efforts to combat an Ebola virus epidemic that has killed more than 2,000 people since it began in August 2018.

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