D.R. Congo UN Convoy Attack

On Monday, February 22nd, at approximately 10:00 a.m. local time, a tragic attack took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) killing three people and leaving four injured. Italian Ambassador to the D.R.C. Luca Attanasio, who has been in office since 2017, left Goma which is the capital of the North Kivu province in eastern D.R.C. He was en-route to visit a school feeding program in Rutshuru, a town in the North Kivu province. This initiative, run by the world food program, provides food and aid to children in the area in order to battle starvation; a concern that approximately one in five Congolese are experiencing.

The road was previously authorized for travel, though amid their journey, the vehicle was ambushed. The group of assailants began their attack by firing warning shots. Shortly after all passengers were taken into one of the most dangerous parks of Africa, the Virunga National Park. Patrol throughout this park intervened and saved four civilians. The attackers managed to kill Italian embassy official Vittorio Lacovacci, their Congolese Driver Moustapha Milambo, and injure Luca Attanasio, who later died in the hospital. Currently, efforts are being made to find those responsible, though officials are unsure as to what rebel group was behind this attack. Many citizens are now mourning the lost lives of the driver, embassy official, and the widely adored Italian ambassador.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced much loss and harm prompted by being embroiled in a civil war for many years. The beginning of violence in the D.R.C. was driven by political and economic unrest. What is known as Africa’s bloodiest war, ending in 2003, took the lives of approximately six million people. Though the war has ended, there continues to be casualties and conflict amidst the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many militias and rebel groups have situated themselves in the region creating violence, specifically in the eastern areas.

Along with many conflicts in the area, there are attempts being made to create peace in the province. Since 1999, the UN’s plan has been in motion in the Democratic Republic of Congo, being one of the largest peacekeeping missions providing over 17,000 personnel worldwide, and approximately 150 troops to the D.R.C. In order to achieve peace and stability, a political solution must be found between the D.R.C. and the neighbouring areas, otherwise, rebel groups will continue to attack and harm innocent civilians. The death of Attanasio, lacovacci, and Milambo has many citizens grieving the losses and eager for change that Attanasio’s death is a means for the beginning of a region of peace.