DR Congo: Johanniter team increases security measures after violent protests
International staff members of the Johanniter leave the metropolis of Goma after a breakout of violence on Wednesday.
Berlin / Goma - After two days of violent protests against the UN mission MONUSCO in the city of Goma, chaos threatens the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. On the ground, Rik Vaassen, programme manager of the Johanniter, reported gunfire and looting, that continued throughout Tuesday. "Our office is close to a MONUSCO facility. The tear gas and latent danger makes it impossible to stay there," Vaassen said.
United Nations personnel had already left the city in large numbers, he said, and UN facilities were subsequently looted. "Aid workers have been told not to enter the streets," Vaassen reported. As a precaution, four international staff members will be temporarily relocated to neighboring Rwanda on Wednesday.
The ongoing protests were triggered by increased violence in North Kivu province, where numerous rebel groups are active. In June, the M23 group reportedly murdered at least 29 villagers. U.N. forces in the country were subsequently accused of inaction, including by the state, which has now turned into protest and violence against the MONUSCO mission.
"We very much hope that the violence will subside," says Rik Vaassen. "It jeopardizes not only us as a humanitarian actor, but also aid to people in remote regions that are hard to reach." An end to the MONUSCO mission could have far-reaching consequences on the overall security situation and future aid projects.
Johanniter International Assistance has been active in the country since 1995, primarily supporting health care in North Kivu. In 2021, it was able to support 42 health stations in this region, where 1.9 million people are fleeing violence.