North Kivu: MONUSCO Evacuates Critically Injured in Kasindi Attack from Beni to Goma

A total of six people were evacuated by MONUSCO helicopters from Beni to Goma for proper medical care. / Photos MONUSCO

19 Jan 2023

North Kivu: MONUSCO Evacuates Critically Injured in Kasindi Attack from Beni to Goma

Jean-Tobie Okala

On January 18, MONUSCO evacuated to Goma the critically injured persons in the bomb attack perpetrated in a Pentecostal church in Kasindi on the border with Uganda in the territory of Beni, North Kivu.

Altogether, six persons were evacuated by UN mission helicopter from Beni to Goma. They were received for treatment at the general hospital in Beni where they had been evacuated for the first time from Kasindi on January 16. Among those injured are three women.

The director of the Beni general hospital, doctor Jérémie Muhindo, maintains that his establishment is currently experiencing "overpopulation". This led to the decision to send some injured people to Goma for treatment. He announced that other wounded were to arrive from Kasindi and requested MONUSCO to take care of some of them in his hospital in Mavivi.

Forty-eight hours after the attack, MONUSCO delegation, headed by acting head of office Abdourahamane Ganda, visited Beni general reference hospital where 24 wounded are being cared for, having survived the Kasindi attack.

In a meeting with the leadership, nursing staff and doctors of this hospital, the interim head of office reiterated MONUSCO’s support to deal with the emergency cases.

After conferring with the Hospital management team, Abdourahamane Ganda, on behalf of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, in the DRC, and all MONUSCO staff present, paid tribute to the people who lost their lives in this attack.

“We have come here today for two reasons: to comfort the injured, to encourage the health authorities who are caring for them and to assess with them any additional needs to which we could contribute,” he said.

Accommodating capacity exceeded

Beni general reference hospital, the only health facility in the city capable of taking care of this type of patient (seriously injured), says it has reached and even exceeded its accommodating capacity, despite support from partners. MONUSCO's offer for support has come at the right time. Reassuringly, Doctor Franck Fikiri, physician-director, took this opportunity to brief on the current needs of the institution he runs:

Even though we benefit from partners’ support, the needs are still there. We have had productive discussions with the head of MONUSCO office, we need to expand our accommodating capacities, given the fact that we can be surprised by such events anytime here. We hope MONUSCO will build us another ward for the wounded. We have already submitted the request to the head of MONUSCO office, who promised to assist us increase our in-take capacity in the coming days. Moreover, we would like MONUSCO to contribute drugs or other additional items, which will be added to what is already there, it will really help”.

"We believed it was lightning that had struck the church..."

Seventeen wounded are currently treated in this hospital. A 14-year-old boy died of his injuries on Monday 16 when an ambulance took him from Kasindi to Beni. For the survivors still traumatized and in shock, there were some feelings of either resignation or anger. If, for some, “it is the will of God”, for others, the State must do everything in their power to find the perpetrators of such a heinous act and bring them to court; it must also bring peace to this part of the territory. It was like an apocalyptic scene on Sunday when, amid church worship, everything fell apart.

Jack Kasereka Mwamba, one of the Kasindi survivors, calls on MONUSCO and the government to intensify investigations and arrest the perpetrators of this act. He testifies: “We were in the middle of a baptism ceremony at our CEPAC church when I heard funny noises. I thought maybe it was lightning because it was rainy weather. I lost a friend in this attack; relatives were also injured. I call on the government and MONUSCO to initiate investigations so that the terrorists who have attacked the church where people pray are arrested”.

MONUSCO has been present on almost all fronts since the incident occurred: they provided technical support to the security services to carry out the investigation in order to find the perpetrators of this terrorist act, they evacuated the wounded and escorted the convoy that brought the victims back from Kasindi towards Paida roughly ten kilometers from Beni.

In its tweeter account on the evening of the attack, the Mission condemned what it named a "cowardly and despicable" attack on a church in Kasindi. It reiterated its commitment to spare no effort alongside the Congolese security and defense forces as well as the judicial authorities to put the perpetrators of these acts out of harm's way.