MONUSCO mandate wraps up in December next year

986

4 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion and Tactical Intelligence Unit (TIU) IV are probably the last SA National Defence Force (SANDF) ground force elements to deploy to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on a peacekeeping tasking.

With the exception of the combined helicopter unit and a SA Military Health Service field hospital, where different duty rosters apply, the infantry and intelligence personnel wrap up their 12 month deployment next December, when MONUSCO exits.

This is as per a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution taken this week for the mission, already in a drawdown phase, to extend until 20 December 2024. The extension is integral to what the world body terms “a comprehensive disengagement plan” over three phases and “gradual handover” of responsibility to the DRC government.

The drawdown started this month (December) and continues with withdrawal from South Kivu. The authorised troop ceiling will be 13 500 military personnel, 660 military observers and staff officers, 591 police personnel and 1 410 personnel of formed police units until 30 June 2024, reduced to 11 500 military personnel, 600 military observers and staff officers, 443 police personnel and 1 270 formed police unit personnel from 1 July 2024 onwards.

During the three drawdown phases ahead of exit, MONUSCO retains the responsibility to protect civilians, support security sector reform and assist in disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) processes.

South Africa, with 1 144 military personnel, is number five on the top 10 military contributing countries to MONUSCO. It, along with Southern African Development Community (SADC) colleagues Malawi and Tanzania, make up the mission’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), the lone formation in the UN ‘s various peacekeeping structures to have an offensive clause in its mandate.

Number one in troop contributing countries (TCCs) to MONUSCO is India (1 834) followed by Pakistan (1 767), Bangladesh (1 640) and Nepal (1 147) before South Africa in fifth place.