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UNHCR staff members wounded in DR Congo, UN chief calls for full investigation

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Wednesday expressed outrage over an attack on a convoy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in which one of its vehicles was hit, wounding three staff members

Unidentified attackers opened fire on the convoy which was being escorted by ‘blue helmets’ from the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) in the Mambassa area, Lubero territory, North Kivu province, where instability is rife and dozens of armed groups operate freely.

The three UNHCR personnel received emergency medical assistance at the scene, according to a statement from the agency. “They were then brought to safety by the (MONUSCO) escort. They have since been transported to hospital where they are receiving treatment”, it continued.

The injured personnel were traveling in a clearly marked UNHCR vehicle, and were returning to the city of Beni from the town of Kirumba, in south Lubero territory, “after distributing aid to people already displaced from their homes by violence and to vulnerable families from the host community.”

“UNHCR is shocked and outraged by the attack and calls in the strongest terms for the respect for international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and humanitarian workers from violence, and to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice immediately”, said the agency.

Hold perpetrators accountable: Guterres

In a statement issued by his Spokesperson in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned the attack, carried out by suspected Mai-Mai militia, and wished a speedy and full recovery to the wounded staff members.

Mr. Guterres emphasized that attacks against United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers, “may constitute a war crime”.

“He calls on the Congolese authorities to spare no effort in investigating and promptly holding accountable the perpetrators of this unacceptable attack”, said Mr. Dujarric. 

“The Secretary‑General reaffirms his continued support to all humanitarian workers in their efforts to deliver assistance to the Congolese people.”