United Nations: The UN Security Council, which is currently under the presidency of India, has strongly condemned the fresh attacks by the M23 rebel group in Congo, warning that additional sanctions could be slapped against the outfit`s leadership if the attacks and human rights violations are not stopped.
In a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri of India, the 15-member body expressed deep concern regarding the "rapidly deteriorating security and humanitarian crisis" in eastern Congo due to the ongoing activities of the M23.
The M23, composed of soldiers who mutinied from the Democratic Republic of Congo national army (FARDC) in April, yesterday launched attacks in Kibumba, Mboga and Ruhondo hills in the province of North Kivu using heavy weapons, according to the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO).
"The members of the Security Council strongly condemn the resumption of attacks by the M23 and demand their immediate cessation," Puri said following a closed-door emergency session, in which members were briefed on the latest developments by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous.
The Council also strongly condemned the continuation of grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by the M23.
"They express their intention to apply additional targeted sanctions against the leadership of the M23 and those acting in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo," the Council statement said.
It also demanded that any outside support and supply of equipment to the M23 should cease immediately.
In line with its mandate to protect civilians, MONUSCO responded to the attacks by deploying its peacekeepers between the towns of Kibumba and Kibati and carried out 10 missions using attack helicopters.
It also secured the Kanyaruchinya site for internally displaced persons (IDPs), located about five kilometres from Kibati.
The site, which already hosts more than 80,000 people, has received about 4,000 new arrivals since the outbreak of the fighting.
The Mission added that it is closely following the situation and will not tolerate any action by the M23 that would provoke panic among the civilian population and generate new displacement.
MONUSCO, with 19,000 uniformed personnel, is the latest iteration of UN peacekeeping missions that have helped to bring stability and civilian elections to the vast nation after it was torn apart by civil wars and rebel movements.
The peacekeepers have been aiding the national army in its efforts to deal with the M23 and various other rebel groups in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, which have witnessed increased fighting over recent months.