The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has ordered peacekeepers to take necessary action to protect civilians and prevent armed groups from advancing in the North Kivu province in response to renewed fighting in the region.
In a briefing to reporters, a UN spokesperson in New York said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the country (MONUSCO), Martin Kobler, had given the order following clashes between the national forces (FARDC) and the M23 armed group.
The fighting reportedly occurred in the Kibati area, 15 kilometres north of Goma. MONUSCO said populated areas and UN positions were directly targeted by mortars and hit by indiscriminate fire.
Yesterday, MONUSCO stepped up its patrols and said it would send in helicopters to protect civilians. The Mission has also activated a contingency plan in the area.
Over the past year, the M23, along with other armed groups, have clashed repeatedly with the national forces (FARDC) in the eastern DRC. The group briefly occupied Goma in November 2012.