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France 24
France 24

UN Security Council team arrives in DR Congo as violence erupts in east

UN peacekeepers patrol areas roamed by M23 rebels fighters in North Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in March 2022. © Djaffar Sabiti, Reuters

A United Nations Security Council delegation arrived in DR Congo on Thursday for a three-day visit, the world body said, as heavy clashes with M23 rebels continued in the east.

The Tutsi-led group has seized swathes of territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province since taking up arms again in late 2021.

M23 fighters have also advanced in recent days, threatening to cut off all road links to Goma, a city of more than one million people on the Rwandan border.

The delegation was due to meet President Felix Tshisekedi before travelling to Goma on Saturday.

The UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, said the objective of the council's visit was to assess the security and humanitarian situation in North Kivu.

"We are here to support the action of MONUSCO, to remind that it is part of the solution to find peace," said Gabon's UN ambassador Michel Xavier Biang on his arrival in Kinshasa.

The peacekeeping force is one of the largest and most expensive UN missions in the world, with more than 16,000 uniformed personnel.

Residents accuse it of failing to deal with the dozens of armed groups operating in eastern DRC, including M23 rebels.

Several regional initiatives intended to defuse the conflict have failed.

An Angola-mediated ceasefire that had been due to take effect on Tuesday collapsed the same day. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had urged the rebels to comply with the truce.

Last weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron also threatened sanctions against parties that did not respect an agreed ceasefire.

The DRC government accuses Rwanda of backing M23. UN experts, the United States and several other western states, have also concluded that Rwanda supports the group, although Kigali has denied that.

Fighting between the DRC army and M23 has displaced about 800,000 people.

Violence erupts in east

M23 are not the only rebel group operating in DR Congo. Militants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed over 40 people in twin attacks in eastern DR Congo, local officials said Thursday.

The ADF, which the Islamic State group claims as its central African affiliate, is one of the deadliest armed militias in eastern Congo, accused of slaughtering thousands of civilians.

Fighters from the group attacked the neighbouring villages of Mukondi and Mausa, in the Beni territory of North Kivu province, during Wednesday evening and the early hours of Thursday, officials said.

"It's total desolation," said Kalunga Meso, a local administrator. "They rounded up people and then executed them."

The ADF is among the most violent of the dozens of armed groups active in eastern Congo and has been accused of a string of bomb attacks and civilian massacres.

Thousands have died at its hands, many of them in the Beni region, say monitors.

A joint Congolese-Ugandan military operation targeting the militia in eastern DRC has been under way since late 2021, but attacks have continued.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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