MONUSCO exits South Kivu

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As the year-end closure of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) looms ever larger, last week saw MONUSCO wrap up and shutter its Bukavu office, the operations nerve centre in South Kivu for 20 plus years.

30 June marked completion of MONUSCO’s withdrawal from the province marking the end of the first phase withdrawal from the DRC.

At what MONUSCO termed was “a high level event” to mark the Bukavu closure, the mission handed a US$1.5 million new helipad and base at nearby Rutemba to the FARDC (Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo).

The South Kivu exit started in earnest in January and saw seven bases and/or facilities (Baraka, Bukavu, Bunyakiri, Kamanyola, Kavumu, Rutemba and Sange) either closed or handed to DRC government authorities. In addition to no longer operating from what MONUSCO calls “installations”, the mission has ended operations from the Mikenge, Minembwe and Uvira bases. These will be handed to President Felix Tshisekedi’s government.

A 34-strong civilian team remains in South Kivu to assist UN agencies, funds and programmes maintain community alert networks, child protection and community dialogue.

Numbers-wise MONUSCO efforts in South Kivu show, among others, direct protection to three million people, demobilisation of 4 600 plus combatants and destruction of more than 44 000 rounds of ammunition. Another statistic comes from MONUSCO assistance in “multiple electoral cycles” with 30 tons of electoral material moved in the province for last year’s presidential election which saw Tshisekedi returned to office.