Wolves and Henhouses

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The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo is considering ejecting a UN peacekeeping force after weeks of violence between demonstrators and soldiers has left 33 people dead, Reuters reported.

Twenty-nine civilians and four peacekeepers were killed during demonstrations across east Congo last week, officials said. Protesters were demanding that peacekeepers leave the country for failing to protect them against militia groups that have left east Congo devastated after decades of violence. The demonstrations included firebombs and other attacks against UN facilities, and peacekeepers opening fire on civilians.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, peacekeepers shot to death two civilians at a Congo-Uganda border post. It is unclear what led to the killings, local and UN officials said, promising an investigation and prosecution of the peacekeepers involved.

The UN has had a peacekeeping mission in Congo in some form since 1999 and currently has more than 12,000 troops and 1,600 police deployed, but its mandate expires in December. At the same time, the peacekeeping mission has for years been accused of abuse toward civilians, especially sexual violence.

Meanwhile, the threat to civilians from warring groups resurfaced last November when the M23 militia, defeated by Congo’s army and UN peacekeepers a decade ago, began recapturing territory in eastern Congo, displacing thousands and straining already tense relations between the UN mission and locals, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bintou Keita, the UN’s special representative in Congo and head of the peacekeeping mission, told the UN Security Council last month that the M23 group poses a threat “beyond the current capabilities” of the peacekeeping force.

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