March 30, 2022

DRC: Rebels Deny Downing UN Chopper

A rebel group based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has denied responsibility for crashing a helicopter carrying peacekeepers over the weekend.

On Sunday, 27 March, a United Nations (UN) chopper was on a reconnaissance mission in eastern DRC to assess population movements to better provide humanitarian aid in the Chanzu area when it was shot down.

Everyone aboard – including eight peacekeepers and UN observers – did not survive the crash.

On Tuesday, 29 March, DRC’s armed forces, FARDC, released a statement in which they blamed the incident on the March 23 Movement (M23) rebel military group.In December 2013, a peace declaration between the DRC government and M23 was signed. Despite the agreement, relations between the two groups have been rocky with both sides accusing the other of acts of sabotage, the latest accusation being that the FARDC has accused Rwanda of funding M23.

In turn, however, Major Willy Ngoma, a spokesperson for M23, has claimed that the helicopter was hit by the FARDC.

Bintou Keita, a UN special representative for Congo, spoke to the UN Security Council on the same day the news of the crash broke, detailing the “deteriorated” situation in the country and how civilians were impacted by the clashes between the rebel group and government troops.

She explained: “In the past three months, we have seen an alarming increase in activities by the M23 rebel movement in North Kivu.”

According to the Red Cross, over 6 000 people have been displaced since the conflict reignited late 2021, and the number is expected to increase as the fighting drags on.

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