The United Nations will suspend operational support for certain Democratic Republic of Congo army units it believes have deliberately killed more than 60 civilians this year, the UN peacekeeping chief said in an interview aired today.
The UN has backed Joseph Kabila’s forces in operations against Rwandan rebels despite mounting complaints by human rights groups and others about abuses by soldiers and the high number of civilians caught up in the offensives.
“According to our information, these civilians were clearly targeted in attacks by certain units of the (army),” Alain Le Roy told UN-sponsored Radio Okapi of the killings of at least 62 civilians in eastern Congo between May and September where the army units were fighting Rwandan rebels.
“We have decided that (Congo’s peacekeeping mission) MONUC will immediately suspend its logistical and operational support to the army units implicated in these killings,” Le Roy, who has been touring the region, said.
Le Roy named the units as being part of the 213th brigade of the Congolese army. But he did not say how many were affected by the move or what the implications were for UN support of the wider operations.
The killings took place around the village of Lukweti, around 80 km (50 miles) northwest of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
More than 1000 civilians have been killed, more than 7000 women and girls raped, and more than 900 000 people forced to flee their homes since Congo launched its offensive in the east against the rebel FDLR group in January.