The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chief of MONUSCO, Leila Zerrougui, has today condemned the killings committed in the territory of Djugu, Ituri province, over the past weeks.
"Murders, looting, arson: the civilian population in that territory are facing particularly brutal and heinous violence in a province that has already suffered too much," said the Special Representative, further indicating "MONUSCO shall not waiver from its commitment to support the FARDC against those who have been perpetrating such abuses, they should be brought to justice and account for their criminal actions".
Leila Zerrougui reiterated peacekeepers' resolve to support the Congolese army's efforts. She underscored that MONUSCO peacekeepers were reinforcing their presence and striking force in the areas most affected by the violence, by increasing patrols as well as deterrence and reconnaissance flights to locate the armed combatants. MONUSCO has also intensified logistical support for the Congolese troops, on the front line in a bid to restore the rule of law throughout the territory.
MONUSCO, both at the provincial and central levels, is working in close collaboration with the authorities to deal with the threat posed by the armed groups currently operating in the territory of Djugu where a peacekeeper was shot and injured in an ambush last week.
"Despite the threats and the challenges, we remain firmly committed alongside the national security forces," said the Special Representative, stressing in particular the need to guarantee the protection of the displaced persons who live in dozens of sites in Ituri and who are particularly vulnerable to attacks. She also recalled the impartiality of the Mission in carrying out its mandate for the stabilization of the country.
"We understand the impatience and anger sometimes expressed against MONUSCO but we once again call on the population to make no mistake about our common enemy: division, manipulation and slanderous rumours would only favour the enemies of the civilian population who would take advantage of the instability and try to break unity between the different communities that live in Ituri," she further said.
The Special Representative expressed concern over the continued spread of fake information in the DRC social networks and calls on everyone to exercise their sense of responsibility.
Indeed, in recent days, crude photographic montages and stories presented as testimonies on an alleged complicity of MONUSCO with certain armed groups have circulated. The purpose of the false information is to discredit both national authorities and MONUSCO, and to stir up hatred in Ituri but also in other provinces, in particular South Kivu.
"The national security forces are engaged in a fight that has claimed many victims in their ranks, and the Mission which is doing everything in its power to assist them, need support from the population," said Leila Zerrougui.
In such a time of major uncertainty, when Congolese people are faced with multiple threats to their safety and health, MONUSCO Chief is calling for unity and solidarity in the fight against the negative forces that continue to wreak havoc in the country, to enable the national authorities and the international community to implement all the necessary actions for the protection of the most vulnerable people.