UN forces in DRC on high alert ahead of possible rebel group advanceListen /
Congolese forces and UN peacekeepers are attempting to hold off a possible rebel advance towards the city of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the head of UN peacekeeping operations.
Hervé Ladsous spoke to journalists on Saturday after briefing an emergency Security Council meeting which was called following an early morning attack by the M23 rebel group in North Kivu province.
He said attack helicopters from the national army and the UN mission in the country (MONUSCO) were deployed.
Some 4,000 people who were displaced by the fighting have gathered at a camp that already holds between 60,000 to 80,000 people. Ladsous said the fear is that the people will flock towards Goma to seek protection should the M23 advance.
"The internal security plan for Goma–which is something handled between MONUSCO and the DRC authorities–that internal security plan has been activated. And, as of right now, the staff of the United Nations in Goma are gathering at security assembly points to ensure their protection. The mission, of course, has also put its forces on high alert in Goma, both within the city and at the airport."
Ladsous also reported that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had spoken with the DRC Foreign Minister to express full support for government efforts to repel the M23.
He added that Mr. Ban also called Rwandan President Paul Kagame to request that he use his influence on the M23 to help calm the situation and restrain the group from continuing their attack.