"The attacks on the town of Goma as well as on MONUSCO [UN Stabilization Mission] forces, and their tragic consequences on the civilian populations already traumatized by two decades of conflict, are unacceptable. They must stop immediately," Mary Robinson, special envoy of the secretary-general for the Great Lakes region of Africa, said in a statement issued in New York Saturday.
"We must do everything to avoid an escalation of tension in the region, promote dialogue, and respect the letter and the spirit of the Addis Ababa Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region."
The accord signed this year by the Congo's government, 10 other countries, and four regional and international institutions is meant to serve as a blueprint for peace and development in the region.
Eastern Congo has been wracked by fighting between national forces and M23 rebels and other armed groups.
Moustapha Soumare, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the Congo, urged those involved in the fighting to "take all precautions" to avoid civilian casualties and to allow access by relief workers.
"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 Soumare, who was one of several U.N. officials who weighed in on the violence affecting civilians in the region where the fighting is taking place.
The United Nations said at least three people were killed and five wounded Saturday when a shell hit in Ndosho, a suburb of Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Another shell fell near the Mugunga 3 camp for displaced persons. Several shells fell in residential areas of Goma Thursday, killing at least four civilians and wounding 15 others.
Martin Kobler, head of the U.N. mission in the Congo, Saturday also expressed dismay over the deaths of two civilians during demonstrations in Goma and called for an investigation by Congolese police and the mission's police unit.
Kobler also said three U.N. peacekeepers in Munigi village were wounded when mortar shells were fired from M23 positions.
"No act of this nature by the M23 will be tolerated and any attack on the civil population and the United Nations constitutes a war crime," he said.
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