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DRC: Aid activities suspended after riots in North Kivu

KINSHASA, 25 June 2008 (IRIN) - Humanitarian agencies have suspended all travel to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo town of Rutshuru after two days of riots against the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC), UN sources said.

“The humanitarian consequences are dramatic as unfortunately humanitarian activities have been suspended because of insecurity,” MONUC spokeswoman Sylvie Van Wildenberg told IRIN on 25 June.

Patrick Lavand’Homme, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in North Kivu, said aid agency travel to Rutshuru, 60km north of the capital Goma, and the nearby village of Kiwandja had been suspended “in light of the crowd, the roadblocks, all the security problems”.

On the nights of 23 and 24 June, residents set upon MONUC personnel, throwing stones at the blue helmets.

“These demonstrations followed the recent retreat of government forces from Mutabo, which seems to have caused some confusion among the population. Mechanisms have been set up to ensure the ceasefire [agreed in January by most parties to the conflict in North Kivu] is respected,” said Alan Doss, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in DRC and head of MONUC.

“MONUC played its role of facilitation,” he added.

MONUC military spokesman Col Jean-Paul Dietrich said five civilians had been injured in the riots, some by gunshots. He added that a laden World Food Programme (WFP) truck had been destroyed.

Doss said MONUC troops had deployed in the area after government troops (FARDC) had pulled out at its request, which was in line with the January conference that delivered the widely ignored ceasefire.

The government forces clashed with troops loyal to renegade Gen Laurent Nkunda on 18 June in Mutabo, near Rutshuru.

A delegation of ambassadors from countries sponsoring the peace process in eastern DRC found that both parties – FARDC and Nkunda’s troops – had acted against the spirit of the undertakings made at the January conference.

“The riots followed a campaign to manipulate the population via local radio,” said Van Wildenberg.

“People did not understand FARDC’s withdrawal because there had been rumours that [Nkunda’s forces] were going to retake this territory occupied by MONUC,” said Dietrich.


Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Governance


Copyright © IRIN 2008
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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