The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today announced the launch of a special operation aimed at protecting civilians and aid workers from armed groups that have stepped up activities in the country’s South Kivu province.
The UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) said it launched the operation, code named “Protection Shield,” in Minembwe, Fizi and Uvira areas in South Kivu following increasing reports of harassment of the local population and humanitarian agencies’ staff by armed groups.
The armed groups have also clashed with the DRC national army, the FARDC, the UN mission said in a press release, UN News Service reports.
The operation is being carried out by ground troops and Special Forces with air support. It draws soldiers from the various national military contingents serving with the UN and involves patrolling Lake Tanganyika to prevent supplies from reaching the armed groups. Some 900 troops are participating in the operation.
“The aim is to neutralise the armed groups and reinforce security for the population, and MONUSCO hopes to accomplish this by the deployment of six temporary operation bases that are being supported by a number of Special Forces in the South Kivu area,” MONUSCO said.
The peacekeeping forces hopes that, when completed, Protection Shield will create favourable conditions for the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs), reinforce mutual confidence in the Government and the FARDC, and prevent infiltration of armed groups or the smuggling of their supplies through Lake Tanganyika.