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UN Investigates Alleged Human Rights Abuses in Goma

A UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC, MONUSCO, armored vehicle drives through Rutshuru, under control of M23 rebels, north of Goma, August 4, 2012.
The spokesman for the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) says the group is investigating alleged human rights violations in Goma.

“So far, we have received over 50 alleged human rights violations, [and] we are investigating them. About 25, or half of those, are already confirmed, but [the] investigation is still going on,” said Madnodje Mounoubai.

He says MONUSCO will not abdicate its responsibility, which he says is to protect unarmed civilians from attacks by armed groups.

"We are there not only to police Goma, but to make sure that there [are] no human rights violations going on, any extra judicial execution going on and so on, and to be able to monitor, and to receive information about alleged human rights violations," he said.”

Mounoubai says MONUSCO stands by its initial statement that it will hold accountable any M23 rebels who commit human rights abuses.

He said the airport in Goma is still under the control of the U.N. mission.

“We control the full airport; the tarmac, the terminals and everything else we are in full control. The airport is vital for the economy and life of Goma and we have to make sure that it is protected and that is it not destroyed and no acts of vandalism is going to take place,” said Mounoubai.

He said MONUSCO is ready to play its role following an agreement signed by regional heads of state meeting in Uganda. The leaders urged the U.N. peacekeepers to act as buffer between positions vacated by the M23 and the Congolese army.

“The implementation of this accord will certainly have to commence with the withdrawal of the M23 from Goma, and I think talking about the control of the airport, the demilitarization zone, all of these will have to come after the M23 is no longer in Goma,” said Mounoubai.

The leaders also called on the M23 rebels to withdraw from the town to a distance of 20 kilometers away from Goma. Mounoubai said the rebels have yet to comply with that demand.

He said even though MONUSCO has observed some heavy weaponry leaving town, there is still a significant presence of M23 inside Goma.

“We will have to wait until Friday because that’s what they said that they will complete the pull out by Friday,” he said. “Maybe by then we will have a better figure of what is going on.”

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