from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – CIVILIANS in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are resisting the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers despite imminent attacks by rebel groups in the region.
The resistance is the aftermath of a fallout between residents in the town of Beni and the UN Mission for Stabilisation in the Congo (MONUSCO).
This after residents accused the peacekeepers of failure to protect them from repeated attacks.
Tempers flared last November when angered Congolese stormed the UN facilities in Beni in protest of the alleged ineffectiveness of MONUSCO against the Islamist Allied Defense Forces (ADF).
Some UN offices, as well as the mayor’s office, were burnt and looted.
Following reports of ADF reportedly planning its latest reign of terror, MONUSCO has intensified its patrols in certain localities of Beni such as Mutwanga.
The military confirmed some residents, particularly in Mutwanga, were hostile to the MONUSCO personnel.
“Work that must be done first to establish a climate of trust between these populations and the MONUSCO Force,” Lieutenant-Colonel Claude Raoul Djehoungo, MONUSCO military spokesperson, said.
He emphasised on the need to make communities aware of the deployment of peacekeeping troops.
“We are there to protect the civilian population,” Djehoungo assured.
MONUSCO confirmed that despite the resistance by some civilians, its blue helmets, as peacekeepers are known, had increased the number or patrols mainly in the Ruwenzori village.
The UN mission said the presence of its soldiers prevented armed groups suspected to be the ADF from infiltrating the village.
The ADF has operated in the North Kivu province near the border with Uganda since the late 1990s.
– CAJ News