The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Monday paid tribute to the Tanzanian peacekeepers killed on Dec. 7 in the worst attack on UN ‘blue helmets’ in recent history.
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the DRC, David Gressly, attended the ceremony held in the north-east city of Beni.
Gressly encouraged the mission’s military, police and civilian staff to continue their efforts to implement the operation’s mandate, including the protection of civilians.
“We are determined to continue our work. What is important now is to stay engaged to protect civilians, especially towards Kamango,” the Deputy Special Representative stressed.
The bodies of the 14 blue helmets were repatriated to Tanzania later on Monday.
The bodies were ceremoniously received in Dar es Salaam by Tanzanian defence and military officials.
In the wake of the incident, Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN Security Council condemned the deadly attack, with the UN chief expressing his “outrage and utter heartbreak.”
“These deliberate attacks against United Nations peacekeepers are unacceptable and constitute a war crime,” Guterres said.
The UN chief urged the DRC authorities to investigate the incident and quickly bring the perpetrators to justice.
“There must be no impunity for such aggression, here or anywhere else,” he added.
Late Thursday night, a UN Stabilisation Mission Company (MONUSCO) Operating Base at Semuliki in Beni territory, in DRC’s restive North Kivu province, was attacked by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) elements.
The attack resulted in protracted fighting between the suspected armed group elements and MONUSCO and Armed Forces of the DRC, known by the French acronym, FARDC.
The UN Operations and Crisis Centre, quoted MONUSCO as saying on Sunday that 14 Tanzanian peacekeepers were killed while 44 others were wounded and one peacekeeper remains missing.
Similarly, of three soldiers who were initially reported missing, two have since returned and one peacekeeper remains missing.