Khassim Diagne in Bunia: "Other approaches should be explored to bring communities to lasting reconciliation"
During his second visit to Ituri, Wednesday June 16, 2021, almost four months after taking up office, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC, in charge of operations and protection, Khassim Diagne, felt that the “all-military approach” should not be the only option for lasting peace in this region.
The deputy head of MONUSCO has called for other approaches, community-based for example, to support military operations during this state of siege and thus hope for lasting peace.
The Deputy Special Representative said this after meeting with the provincial military governor. With General Johnny Nkashama, Khassim Diagne reviewed the security situation in Ituri with daily killings perpetrated by armed groups.
Tense security situation
This visit comes in a particular context: indeed, since May 6, the province has been placed under a state of siege, decided by the Congolese Head of state, to eradicate the armed groups causing untold suffering to the population of Ituri.
On the night of May 30 to 31, around 50 civilians were massacred by armed gangs identified as ADF in Boga and Tchabi, in the south of Irumu territory.
More recently, since Saturday, June 12, a center in Fataki, 85 km from Bunia, in the territory of Djugu, has been the scene of clashes between the FARDC and Codeco militiamen.
Solidarity with the Congolese people
Khassim Diagne said he came to Bunia to discuss with the military Governor how the Mission can best encourage the efforts being made by the army so that it can successfully fulfill its mission.
“I have come to extend my solidarity and sympathy, my most sincere condolences to the Governor, to the entire provincial administration as well as to the populations of Ituri, following the recent attacks on the night of 30-31 May, in the localities of Tchabi and Boga, ” he further said.
He recalled “these killings were condemned at the highest level of the UN body and the Secretary-General of the United Nations personally condemned these killings and reiterated to the government and to the military and civilian authorities that the United Nations and MONUSCO present in the area, stand ready to support Congolese government’s and security’s efforts to completely neutralize these armed groups."
"It is truly a visit of solidarity and compassion and also of support for the authorities’ and the provincial action. I pay a heartfelt tribute, it is not an easy task to fight, in difficult terrain, such asymmetric forces, with a view to eliminating these negative forces," he said.
"MONUSCO is there as a reinforcement"
Asked what more MONUSCO can bring to help the authorities to win this fight, Khassim Diagne recalled “the protection mandate is a sovereign act, therefore the primary responsibility for protecting civilians lies with the Congolese authorities; MONUSCO is there in reinforcement, in support."
“We organize patrols, we provide logistical support and from an operational point of view vis-à-vis the Congolese authorities, we put together our efforts to be able to protect the population; It is not an easy task, the challenges are there, but we are doing what we can with the means at our disposal to support the Congolese forces," he further stated.
Khassim Diagne left Bunia on Thursday for Tchabi where he was supposed to wrap up his visit to Ituri.