Statement By The Humanitarian Coordinator And Agencies Of The United Nations

Published on 24 August 2013

The Humanitarian Coordinator, Moustapha Soumare, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP and OCHA condemn the killings of innocent civilians in the fighting in North Kivu

Kinshasa / Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), August 24, 2013 –
The Humanitarian Coordinator, along with United Nations humanitarian agencies including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Program (WFP) and the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) strongly condemn the killing of innocent civilians by military strikes during the fighting between the Congolese Army (FARDC) and M23 rebel group.

At least three people were killed and at five others wounded this morning when a shell landed in Ndosho, a suburb of the city of Goma, capital of North Kivu. Another shell fell on the same day near the Mugunga 3 IDP camp, home to more than 10,000 displaced. On August 22, numerous shells landed in residential areas of Goma, killing at least four people and wounding 15 - all civilians.

 “I condemn all attacks causing deaths and injuries among the civilian population, and remind all parties to the conflict that the indiscriminate or deliberate attack against civilians is a war crime”, said the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in DRC, Moustapha Soumare.

"The parties to the conflict must respect the inalienable rights of men, women and children to life. Civilians should not be targeted," said Barbara Bentein, UNICEF Representative in the DRC. "All forces and armed groups involved in the conflict in the DRC must take care to protect the lives of all civilians in their entirety," said Bentein.

"More than150,000 people have been displaced towards Goma since 2012. Goma is a place of refuge where the safety of civilians must absolutely be protected by the parties to the conflict," said Stefano Severe, UNHCR Regional Representative. "International humanitarian law requires parties to the conflict to take all precautions to avoid exposing the civilians."

"We are concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the fighting and call on the warring parties not only to spare civilians, but also to allow humanitarian access to populations in need," said Martin Ohlsen, WFP Representative in the DRC.

In light of several UN resolutions including resolution 1612 (2005) on children and armed conflict and resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP and OCHA remind all warring parties that they must protect civilians.

For more information, please contact:
Elena Locatelli, head (OIC) of UNICEF Eastern Zonal Office, Goma - +243 (0)818305915
Faffa Attidzah Olivier, Chief Sub Delegation UNHCR Goma - +243 (0)822560471
Caroline Peguet, OCHA Head of Office, Goma - +243 (0)97000376
Fabienne Pompey, Head of Communication, WFP – +243 (0)970000292