In the absence of Congolese authorities, Members of the UN mission and UN Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix paid tribute to five peacekeepers that were killed in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. 

A Moroccan peacekeeper was killed Tuesday in Butembo during violent anti-Monusco demonstrations. In the same circumstances, two UN police officers of Indian nationality were also killed. On the demonstrators’ side, nine people were killed, according to hospital sources. 

Major Mouhamed Rami, a Moroccan national, passed on the following day “accidentally,” according to Bintou Keita, the director of Monusco in Goma, where homage to the peacekeepers were given. 

According to Congolese authorities, a fifth peacekeeper, a Moroccan named Abdelaziz El Maskyni, was murdered near the town of Bunagana in Rutshuru region, where peacekeepers are assisting the DRC’s military forces in operations against the March 23 Movement, an uprising supported by Rwanda. 

At the peacekeepers’ memorial ceremony, the Indian, Moroccan, UN and Congolese flags flew side by side, but no Congolese officials were present. 

“We must be attentive to the sometimes completely unfounded reasons that motivate this hostility (towards the Blue Helmets) in order to learn all, the lessons and work jointly with the Congolese authorities to make the necessary improvements,” said Bintou Keita. 

“The best service we can render to all those who lost their lives is to redouble our efforts and do so in such a way that these episodes of violence do not recur,” urged Jean-Pierre Lacroix, head of the UN peace department. 

Since 1999, Monusco, one of the biggest and most expensive UN missions in the world, has been operating in the DRC and currently employs over 14,000 peacekeepers with a $1 billion annual budget. 

Since 2019, Monusco has been facing growing hostility from the population, which accuses it of the inability to neutralize the hundred or so local and foreign armed groups active in the eastern DRC.  

 

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