DR Congo: UN mission says police arrest more than 200 suspected of recent attacks

A MONUSCO APC is greeted by FARDC soldiers on their way back from the front line in the Beni region of the DRC where the UN is backing the FARDC in an operation against ADF militia. Photo: MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti

A MONUSCO APC is greeted by FARDC soldiers on their way back from the front line in the Beni region of the DRC where the UN is backing the FARDC in an operation against ADF militia. Photo: MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti

DR Congo, 5 November 2014 – The United Nations stabilizations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced today that more than 200 people have been arrested in relation to the recent attacks against civilians around the town of Beni in the long-restive eastern part of the vast African country.

The announcement came just hours before the UN Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement that “strongly condemned the recent attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Beni territory, brutally killing over 100 civilians, mostly women and children.”

The Security Council also expressed its deep concern over the lack of progress of the voluntary disarmament process of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), recalling the 2 January 2014 end date set and calling on the DRC government, in coordination with the UN mission known as MONUSCO, “to immediately undertake military action against those leaders and members of the FDLR who do not engage in the demobilization process and who continue to carry out human rights abuses.”

In addition, the Council, in the three-page comprehensive statement, expressed its “grave concern” at the decision of the DRC government to expel the head of the UN joint Human Rights Office and recent threats made against other staff members in that office.

Earlier today, according to an announcement on Radio Okapi, created by the UN mission known by its French acronym MONUSCO, and the Swiss non-governmental organization Fondation Hirondelle, MONUSCO spokesman Charles Bambara said among those arrested were members of the Ugandan-based ADF rebel group who are believed to be responsible for the attacks in and around Beni.

Weapons, ammunitions, bombs, radio sets and other military equipment were seized in the operations, according to Mr. Bambara.

He said more than 200 people had been arrested in the operations carried out by the National Police and MONUSCO police, while UN mission forces are also intensifying their patrols in the region.

Briefing the Security Council in New York last month, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC and the head of MONUSCO, Martin Kobler, underlined the need for a “proactive, not reactive” response in countering the country’s rebel groups and boosting protection for civilians.

Mr. Kobler noted that despite initial hopes that “the seeds of peace” would spread throughout the DRC’s eastern regions, recent outbursts of violence in villages in and around the city of Beni in North Kivu reminded the world “just how fragile those hopes can be.” He was referring to a series of massacres committed by ADF rebels between 2 October and 17 October.