Visiting Bintou Keita, the Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), has promised to continue actions to protect civilians in the two bedeviled eastern provinces of the vast country.The week before Bintou Keita’s visit (September 6-10) to Ituri and Beni, an attack on a convoy under the protection of Congolese soldiers and UN Mission peacekeepers left few people dead and caused significant material damage in Ituri.
In Beni, the Head of the UN Mission reports: “I was told in one of the meetings: How do you have the courage to come back when you have been told that MONUSCO was leaving?”
Keita seems far from shaken by this climate of mistrust.
“We are not going to be discouraged, we will never be discouraged. Our objective is to accompany the country to achieve peace consolidation,” said the UN official, of Guinean citizenship.
Crimes in Ituri and North Kivu led President Felix Tshisekedi to declare a state of siege last May.
To end the trouble in these areas, “MONUSCO and the Congolese army have been running joint operations” since August.
“We discussed the need to ensure that the state of siege is successful. And to do this, we examined the conduct of operations, particularly in the context of the partnership between the Congolese army and MONUSCO,” Bintou Keita, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General added.
Speaking to civil society organizations, the successor of the Algerian Leila Zerrougui, insisted that “the state of siege is a very important tool in the fight against insecurity”.
She called on all segments of the population to get involved in the quest for peace because “it is everyone’s business.”
In any case, Beni has been a ghost town since Monday.
The population is observing a general strike as a means of putting pressure on the authorities to find a solution to the rampant insecurity in the area.