UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council have condemned the killing of a Nepali UN peacekeeper in Congo a week after six Pakistani peacekeepers in the UN force died there.
The Nepali’s death came during an attack on peacekeepers by a local militia on Tuesday in Congo, which hosts one of the deadliest UN peacekeeping operations.
“The Secretary-General strongly condemns today’s attack against peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Organisation Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Guterres’s Spokesperson Farhan Haq said.
The mission is known by its French acronym MONUSCO has 963 peacekeepers from Nepal.
Just after an acrimonious meeting on Ukraine, the 15 members of the Security Council spoke in one voice issuing a joint statement condemning “in the strongest terms all attacks and provocations against MONUSCO” and “called on the Congolese authorities to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice”.
The Security Council said it was important to strengthen MONUSCO by giving it “the necessary capacities to fulfil its mandate and promote, including by taking additional measures as appropriate, the safety and security of the United Nations peacekeepers and its operations”.
Haq added that the attack was carried out in Bali in the Djugu territory of Ituri province by “suspected members” of the Cooperative pour le developpement du Congo (CODECO) militia when the peacekeepers were carrying out operations in the area.
The peacekeeper, who is the eighth to die in the UN’s Congo operations, has not been identified.
“The Secretary-General recalls that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime. He calls on the Congolese authorities to investigate this incident and swiftly bring those responsible to justice,” UN Secretary General Spokesperson said.
On Tuesday last week, the helicopter operated by Pakistani peacekeepers crashed down.
In addition to the Pakistanis, a Russian and a Serbian in the helicopter also died.
The UN said the crash of the helicopter that was on a reconnaissance mission in the area of Tshanzu, south-east of Rutshuru in North Kivu was under investigation.
The area has witnessed clashes there between the M23 rebel group and Congolese, according to the UN, which did not assign blame for the attack.
Media reports have quoted the Congolese armed forces as saying that the helicopter was shot down.
The CODECO, which is suspected in the killing of the Nepali peacekeeper, was originally an agricultural cooperative that turned into an armed group fighting Congo and the MONUSCO.
It is made up of the Lendu ethnic group and is sometimes described as a cult.
South Asian peacekeepers dominate the 14,000-strong military segment of the MONUSCO operation with 1,974 from Pakistan, 1,888 from India and 1,634 from Bangladesh in addition to the Nepalis.
The peacekeeping operations in Congo — the current MONUSCO and its previous version known as MONUC — have had at least 400 deaths.
Thirty Indian peacekeepers have died in the operations, as have 33 from Pakistan and 31 from Bangladesh in addition to the eight from Nepal.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)