Now in its 11th year, the United Nations mission in the conflict riddled Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues its unabated efforts to protect civilians and work toward peace, engaging with any number of local stakeholders as well as regional and continental blocs and bodies.
One example of the commitment shown by MONUSCO, the French acronym for the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, comes from a report prepared by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ staff.
It shows, among others, in the four-month period from March to June this year, over 23 800 patrols were undertaken by soldiers attached to the largest UN peacekeeping mission. With a stated military personnel number of 14 000 it shows the MONUSCO command structure’s commitment to boots on the ground as well as in vehicles and the air.
The total number of uniformed personnel, with over a thousand South African soldiers and other military personnel deployed, is 16 316 at present. The majority are 14 000 military personnel, with the remainder being 660 military observers, 591 police and 1 050 formed police unit personnel.
The latest report by the top UN official also notes on the mission’s effectiveness, that it launched 15 standing combat deployments in the four-month period. This maintains the same level of operational efficiency as the previous reporting period.
On the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), where a South African infantry battalion is a third personnel contributor along with Malawi and Tanzania, Guterres’ report has it enhancement of FIB headquarters and its intelligence capabilities is “nearly complete” with a tactical intelligence component now at full capacity.
“Twenty additional staff officers were deployed, bringing the total number of new staff officers at FIB headquarters to 35 of the expected 37. The first of four quick reaction forces has deployed and been operational since May, with the remaining three scheduled to deploy by July.”
What the mission and its peacekeeping component faces daily is recorded in the Secretary General’s latest report where, among others, it notes in a section titled “Security Situation”, “increased armed group activity: in the Djugu and Irumu territories of Ituri province. This saw 159 civilians killed and a further 52 injured.
“In Djugu territory, the intensity of attacks by the Co-opérative pour le développement du Congo (CODECO) on the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) was greater than in the period leading to cessation of hostilities in 2020. Between 10 and 17 April, 23 attacks against FARDC and civilians were recorded in eastern Djugu with 35 civilians killed. In some cases, these attacks prompted retaliation from the armed group Zaire. Since 10 April, MONUSCO repelled armed group incursions in N’Bassa, Nyekese/Dhele, Yikpa, Schubert, Kasigbana and Kaa villages. Violence triggered displacement of civilians with an estimated 5 000 internally displaced persons seeking protection near the MONUSCO temporary operating base in Fataki,” according to the report.
Other MONUSCO activities and work in the report include human rights and the humanitarian situation in DRC; stabilising and strengthening State institutions; security and justice sector reforms; disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration; women, peace and security; child protection and sexual violence as well as planning an exit strategy.