Harare (New Ziana) – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has condemned the continued attacks on civilians in the town of Beni in Eastern DRC and the resultant violent demonstrations against United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) peacekeepers.
On Sunday, eight people were killed while nine were kidnapped in an overnight attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels leading to protests against the UN mission’s perceived failure to protect Beni residents.
Several hundred protesters stormed the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission compound in Beni with reports of looting and vehicles being set on fire.
In a statement, SADC chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the continued attacks in Beni have resulted in the deaths of approximately 80 people, as well as the injury and displacement of many others.
“SADC is resolute in voicing its condemnation of the attacks that the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) continue to perpetrate on the civilian population in the DRC,” he said.
“As a result of the attacks, the response to the deadly Ebola Virus Disease has also been disrupted. This poses a huge risk of Ebola spreading beyond the current epicenter of the disease, which may lead to more deaths.”
President Mnangagwa urged the DRC government to take all necessary measures to protect civilians, and end violence perpetrated against peacekeepers.
“SADC also urges all civilians in Beni to remain calm, submit their grievances through established formal channels, and allow the resolution of their grievances through dialogue to enable MONUSCO peacekeepers, the Force Intervention Brigade and the Armed Forces of the DRC to carry out operations against negative forces, including ADF, to stabilise the country and the region,” he said.
“SADC reaffirms its continued commitment to support the DRC to restore peace and tranquility and enable the country to return to political normalcy.”
The mineral rich DRC has been plagued by unending conflicts over the years which have claimed millions of lives.
The situation has been compounded by sporadic outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus which has also claimed thousands of lives.