A UN peacekeeper Sunday was killed and another injured after their helicopter came under fire in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The peacekeepers were part of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), which has been operating in the region since 2010 under a mandate to protect civilians. According to a UN statement, it is unknown who was responsible for the attack.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the attack. Guterres said, “[The] attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime under international law. He calls on the Congolese authorities to investigate this heinous attack and swiftly bring those responsible to justice.”
This is not the first attack on UN peacekeepers. In March 2022, eight peacekeepers were killed in a helicopter crash during a reconnaissance mission. Civilians have also been subject to violence by armed groups. In November 2022, at least 131 civilians were killed in attacks in eastern DRC by the armed group M23, prompting the Guterres to call for an immediate ceasefire. The call for ceasefire followed a UN Security Council demand issued earlier this month for all armed groups in the region to immediately disband and cease violence.
The situation in eastern DRC has become a cause of concern for international humanitarian organizations. Earlier this year, the UN reported that 49 bodies were found in a mass grave in eastern DRC, which were linked to militia killings. On Monday, Human Rights Watch released a report examining the atrocities committed by M23. The report found that more than 520,000 people have become displaced due to conflict between M23, the DRC army and other armed groups. Significantly, the report alleged that the M23 group is supported by Rwanda, although this has been denied by Rwanda.