UN Secretary-General António Guterres has urged authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to investigate recent deadly attacks by insurgents in the east and bring the perpetrators to account.
At least 55 people were killed, and many others wounded, in the overnight assaults on Monday, which targeted camps hosting internally displaced people near the towns of Boga in Irumu territory, Ituri province, and Tchabi, North Kivu province.
They were carried out by suspected members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group.
A Quick Reaction Force from the UN mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, was deployed to the area, and peacekeepers also assisted the wounded, including with medical evacuations.
Call for justice
The UN chief has strongly condemned the attacks, according to a statement issued on Tuesday by his Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.
"The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a swift recovery to the injured", it said.
"He calls on the Congolese authorities to investigate these incidents and bring those responsible to justice."
The Secretary-General also underlined the UN's continued support to the Congolese government and people in their efforts to achieve peace and stability in the east.
A 'tragic situation'
The two villages that were attacked are located on the border between Ituri and North Kivu provinces in an area where the ADF are known to be active, according to media reports. Congolese forces have been battling the group for decades.
The UN's top humanitarian official in the country, David McLachlan-Karr, who also condemned the attacks, noted that houses were set on fire and civilians were abducted.
He said this "tragic situation" followed the looting last Friday of a facility belonging to a humanitarian partner in Djugu territory, Ituri province, causing the temporary suspension of their operations in the area.
"These attacks are unacceptable", Mr McLachlan-Karr said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Parties to the conflict must protect civilian populations and these crimes must not go unpunished. Communities, already very vulnerable, must be able to live in peace wherever they are and return to their homes in safety."