Congo-Kinshasa: Jean-Pierre Lacroix - 'Everyone Should Learn the Lessons From What Has Happened'

press release

During his two-day visit to DRC, UN Peace Operations Chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix held a press conference on MONUSCO site in Beni which was damaged by violent demonstrations against the Mission. Mr. Lacroix appealed to everyone to "learn the lessons from the recent days' events." He also called on the population to "make no mistake about the enemy". Below is his statement in its entirety.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix : "Hello everyone. I came first and foremost at the request of the UN Secretary General to express full solidarity with our colleagues and with the people living in this territory. Can you see all these destructions, they were premeditated. We must therefore condemn them in the strongest possible terms and; of course, we express our deepest sympathy to the victims, the civilian population. There have been a lot of victims lately. This is unacceptable. There have also been casualties among our colleagues of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

The enemies are those who attack and kill the population. The enemies are those who kill us and kill the people indirectly, those who are preventing the Ebola Response to make any progress.

Our message is therefore let us make no mistake about our enemies. We do side with the people of this territory, the Congolese people. Are there things we can do better? Of course, we will not hesitate to improve. Our partners with whom we work on a daily basis should also rethink the way of working, and work even more closer with us, I mean the FARDC, the national Police, the authorities. I believe we need to further strengthen this partnership, and we are already engaged, as you know, SRSG met DRC President a few days ago. DRC Government and MONUSCO have reaffirmed their commitment to working together.

There is a lot to be done here at the level of our Force with FARDC senior command. I hope everyone will learn the lessons from what has happened. But once again, like I said earlier, let us make no mistake about our enemies. The enemies are those who attack and kill the population. The enemies are also those who attack the persons and institutions who have come to assist the Congolese people, especially the people of this territory in fighting the Ebola virus disease.

They are the ones who kill us and kill the people indirectly by preventing the Ebola Response to make any progress. Those are the very enemies we need to defeat. Obviously, it's not easy. Those are the hiding cowards. They attack, only at night, the defenseless populations. They are manipulated and operate in groups to cause these kinds of devastations. Our message is quite clear: we remain resolved and shall continue to support the Congolese people.

Question 1: Why was it important for you to make this visit here?

Lacroix: It's important because of what you are seeing around us. It is important to voice our solidarity. And it is the UN Secretary-General who asked me to convey this message of solidarity to the people here. We are on the side of the population, May I recall that the United Nations Secretary-General came a few months ago, and he visited several places. We are also here to express our solidarity to all the colleagues from the United Nations system, those who are committed to fighting Ebola, to our colleagues of MONUSCO who are also doing a lot to support the fight against Ebola; those are indeed the reasons why we are here. We are determined to learn the lessons from what has happened.

We will see how to enhance our partnership with FARDC and the authorities. If there are people playing a different game to undermine our efforts, the efforts of the DRC President and his Government; they should be denounced and held accountable. We need to send out a clear message supporting the willingness expressed by President Tshisekedi to work with MONUSCO. For us, it is imperative to ensure that this message is well understood given the reality on the ground.

Q.2: What is the status of the investigations into the murder of a demonstrator here in Boikene?

Lacroix: I believe there should be investigations into all that has happened here. Are you referring to an attacker who was throwing Molotov cocktails, causing damages? We are not here to kill people, not even those who are using lethal weapons to attack us. There are going to be investigations, of course, I mean investigations into everything that has happened here. There shall be no impunity. To those who are attacking the population, those who are killing the peaceful citizens, including our colleagues, we will do everything in our power to ensure that there is no impunity at all.

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