Proof of the effort MONUSCO, the United Nation’s largest peacekeeping mission, puts into stabilising the sprawling and strife-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) comes in a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Among others, the report for the three months ending mid-September notes MONUSCO military personnel conducted over seventeen thousand patrols round the clock with a further 1 847 joint patrols, mostly with FARDC (Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo).
In the same period 270 aerial reconnaissance sorties were successfully completed and 20 of the mission’s standing combat deployments continued.
South Africa’s commitment to MONUSCO is via its RSABATT, a battalion strength unit comprising mostly infantry with tactical intelligence, medical and other land-based elements, as an integral component of the FIB (Force Intervention Brigade). This is currently the only UN peacekeeping mission component to have an offensive mandate in the execution of its top priority – protecting Congolese citizens. Other troop and equipment contributions to the FIB come from South Africa’s co-SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) members Malawi and Tanzania.
The FIB headquarters upgrade is complete including in-house intelligence capabilities.
“In addition to the geo-location threat analysis unit, the tactical intelligence unit is at full operational capacity. An additional 34 military staff officers were deployed during this period, increasing strength to 55 military staff officers out of 58 budgeted for FIB headquarters. The second quick reaction force (QRF) from Kenya, is operational since end-August. Deployment of the remaining two quick reaction forces, from Nepal and South Africa, was delayed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including unprecedented unavailability of shipping vessels,” the report states adding they are expected in DRC next month (October).
Regular, ongoing inspections of MONUSCO’s 40 military units continued during the period under review with three assessed as excellent, five optimal, two above average and one as average. The report notes inspection reports for five units were not available when it was compiled.
Guterres’ latest report on MONUSCO has it that findings made during inspections will be addressed by implementing suitable measures. These include enhancing base defences and compliance with set down best practices for UN peacekeeping operations.
One example of field level response by MONUSCO elements given in the report is North and South Kivu as well as Tanganyika. With the assistance of UNMAS (UN Mine Action Services) 49 spot tasks resulting in destruction of 243 explosive remnants of war (ERW), including three anti-personnel mines, two of cluster ammunition and 212 rounds of small arms ammunition were completed.
Additionally, a MONUSCO improvised explosive device disposal (IEDD) team conducted four improvised explosive device (IED) post-blast investigations in Beni area and in July, a joint MONUSCO improvised explosive device disposal team and explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed an improvised explosive device and 10 items of unexploded ordnance in Makoko also in Beni area.