UN toughens sanctions against DRC amid violence
THE UN Security Council has extended and expanded its arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) until July next year as bloody ethnic and religious violence mounts and reports of the indiscriminate murders of hundreds of civilians continue to surface.
The expanded sanctions will cover individuals and entities engaging in or providing support for acts that include planning, directing, sponsoring or participating in attacks against UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (Monusco) peacekeepers or UN personnel, including members of the Group of Experts.
The council further decided to extend by two months the deadline for the group’s final report on human rights violations and abuses, including those within the national security forces, given the extraordinary circumstances under which it is operating, including the killing of two of its members in the Kasai region in March.
The council called on rebel militias in the regions to cease all violence and stop exploiting natural resources.
Despite the UN resolution, exchanges of heavy weapons fire erupted in north-eastern DRC yesterday between the army and militia fighters, and several students sitting exams were wounded in an explosion at a school, residents said.
The fighting in and around the city of Beni between Congo’s army and what is believed to be a new coalition of armed groups, the National Movement of Revolutionaries, erupted early in the morning and kept residents trapped in their homes, local activist Teddy Kataliko said.
Gilbert Kambale, another local activist, said that the bodies of three militia fighters were lying in the street, not far from the mayor’s office.
An army spokesman in the zone said: “The situation is not good.”
The fighting followed a breakout by more than 900 inmates, many suspected militiamen, from Beni’s main prison this month one of a – series of mass jailbreaks that has underlined the security situation further since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate in December.
Eastern Congo contains dozens of armed groups that prey on locals and exploit mineral reserves. ANA – and Reuters
Residents chant slogans against Congolese President Joseph Kabila as UN peacekeepers patrol the streets of Kinshasa in December. The world body has extended sanctions against those found to be acting against its peacekeepers and other personnel in the country.