On 5 January 2018, the Secretary-General announced the establishment of a Special Investigation led by former Assistant-Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Dmitry Titov (Russian Federation), to investigate a series of attacks against UN peacekeepers in the Beni territory of North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In addition to the 7 December 2017 attack by suspected Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF) fighters in which 15 UN peacekeepers from Tanzania were killed at their base in Semuliki, 43 wounded, with one still missing, the investigation also covered two earlier attacks against UN peacekeepers from Tanzania in nearby Mamundioma on 16 September and 7 October 2017.
The Special Investigation team, which included military and security experts, political and logistical officers and two senior officers of the Tanzanian People’s Defence Forces, aimed to establish the circumstances leading to the attacks, evaluate MONUSCO’s response and determine actions needed to prevent such attacks from occurring again.
The Special Investigation team concluded that the three attacks against the UN peacekeepers were carried out using a similar modus operandi and that all available evidence points to the ADF as the attacker. The team found a number of gaps in the training and posture of MONUSCO and its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). Moreover, the Investigation team noted that the Mission did not have an actionable contingency plan to reinforce and extract its peacekeepers during the attack. Issues of command-and-control, leadership and lack of essential enablers such as aviation, engineers and intelligence were also major obstacles and need to be addressed urgently.
The team recommends that MONUSCO, UNHQ and troop-contributing countries should actively pursue a strategy aimed at rendering the FIB more robust, agile and better suited for offensive operations especially in remote and difficult terrains. Beyond the military operations, the investigation team also underscored the importance of a reinforced engagement with regional political actors and stakeholders to better understand and tackle the threat posed by the ADF.
Based on the findings of the Special Investigation team, MONUSCO has updated its Action Plan on Improving Security of Peacekeepers, which was developed in response to the General Santos Cruz report, to include its recommendations specific to the Semuliki and Mamundioma incidents. In the meantime, the Mission has installed perimeter lighting, upgraded the communications infrastructure and enhanced the security perimeters at several of its bases. MONUSCO continues to undertake efforts to locate the UN peacekeeper missing since the Semuliki attack. The Mission is also taking steps to render the FIB more operational, in line with the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s special report on the strategic review of MONUSCO of 29 September 2017. UNHQ has continued to engage with FIB TCCs and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to address existing gaps.