UN humanitarian official calls for protection of civilians in Goma

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M23 fighters move along the road towards Goma as Peacekeepers observed gathering of armed people North of the city [MONUSCO/Sylvain Liechti]

The top UN humanitarian official in the Democratic Republic of Congo is calling for all parties to respect international humanitarian law after three people were killed and 14 wounded by shells dropped north-west of the city of Goma on Wednesday, 22 May 2013.

Humanitarian Coordinator Moustapha Soumaré says the explosions, which took place next to churches, provoked panic among the population, causing many to flee towards downtown Goma in search of safer haven.

The UN official expressed concern over the violence saying "Civilians have been injured during military operations because military positions and military actions are taking place too close to where civilian populations are located, a violation of International Humanitarian Law". He says civilians should not be mistaken for military targets and called on "all parties to take all measures necessary to avoid civilian casualties".

Humanitarian Coordinator Moustapha Soumaré says the humanitarian community is "extremely concerned about the protection of civilians and the insecurity which is hindering our capacity to assist people in urgent need of help, adding that "humanitarian agencies are calling for total, unimpeded access to those in need".

Thousands of people, including internally displaced persons, have fled insecurity since fighting resumed on 20 May 2013 between the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and the M23 rebels. Some have sought shelter in churches and schools in the center of Goma town, while others have moved towards the city of Sake, located 25 km away.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’27″

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