MONUSCO, FARDC, EACRF heighten patrols in eastern DR Congo

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Hostilities in particularly the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have seen troops from two East Africa Community (EAC) countries deployed as part of a reaction force with resident UN peace mission troops conducting heightened patrols in provincial capital Goma.

There is a South African military presence in the region with the combined helicopter unit (CHU) of the SA Air Force (SAAF) and SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) medical specialists and corpsmen and women stationed in the Goma area. They are part of the United Nations (UN) peace mission – its largest – in the central African country also home to a Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), staffed alongside South African soldiers by troops from Malawi and Tanzania, like South Africa, Southern African Development Community (SADC) members.

The Kenya Defence Force reports Kenyan troops are now in the DRC as part of the EAC Regional Force (EACRF) are conducting joint patrols with their FARDC (Forces Armées de la Republique Democratique du Congo ) counterparts in the Kibumba area.

“While patrolling, troops identified areas of collaboration to restore normality in the troubled east. EACRF Deputy Force Commander Brigadier General Emmanuel Kaputa accompanied by Kenyan Contingent Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Denis Obiero said since deployment, strategic infrastructure has been secured and plans are advanced for further deployment,” a statement said.

At the same the UN reports joint patrols with MONUSCO troops and Congolese security forces are again running in Goma and outskirts following earlier violent protects.

“The joint patrols are reassuring for the population in North Kivu. They have a triple purpose: to secure Goma and surrounds in the context of the current conflict, to guarantee free movement of civilians and ensure rapid intervention in the event of an attack. Outside Goma, the patrols also aim to keep armed groups away from main roads,” a UN statement said.

“MONUSCO is working jointly with FARDC to secure this part of the RN2 [road] and allow freedom of movement for all, including the force and population,” Major Francis Arseneault, head of a MONUSCO section is reported as saying.

“Joint patrols are executed three times a day. This mobile presence includes between six and eight vehicles and about 60 other elements. These include a QRF (quick reaction force) joint team with a platoon of South African or Nepalese soldiers. Rotation sees patrol strengths include PNC (Congolese National Police), MONUSCO police (UNPOL) and SENFPU (Formed Police Unit from Senegal).”

There is, as yet, no clarity from the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Directorate Corporate Communication (DCC) on when and if South African airmen, military medics and soldiers will receive their 2022 Goodwill Parcels. The parcels are usually given to military personnel deployed out of country during the year-end festive season as a token of appreciation. defenceWeb asked for details of the delivery visit with, at the time of publishing, no response more than a week after the request was submitted.