A contingent of Tanzanian soldiers has arrived in the eastern city of Goma in the DRC as part of the intervention brigade authorised by the United Nations (UN) to help neutralise armed groups in that volatile part of the country.
In March the Security Council authorised the deployment of an intervention brigade within the existing UN peacekeeping operation in the country (MONUSCO) to carry out targeted offensive operations, with or without the Congolese national army, against armed groups threatening peace in the eastern DRC.
The brigade – which will be based in North Kivu province and total 3 069 peacekeepers – is tasked with neutralising armed groups, reducing the threat posed to State authority and civilian security, and making space for stabilisation activities.
Madnodje Mounoubai, spokesperson for MONUSCO, said in an interview with UN-backed Radio Okapi that the new arrivals bring to 100 the number of Tanzanian troops now on the ground as part of the brigade.
“A number of Tanzanian soldiers arrived with equipment. From the evidence we have, about a hundred elements are already in place. These are officers, members of staff, so those responsible for planning that have arrived,” he said.
He added that the Commander of the brigade, General James Mwakibolwa of the Tanzanian Peoples’ Defence Force, is already in place with certain members of his staff.
The brigade is designed to further support the political objectives of the Peace, Security and Co-operation Framework for the DRC and the region – a peace deal signed in February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
South Africa and Malawi are the other contributors to the brigade which has been mandated to conduct offensive operations, a first for UN peacekeepers in Africa.
Each country will send an infantry battalion of 850 soldiers, amounting to 2 550 men. The remaining troops will come from an artillery company, a special forces company and a reconnaissance company. The brigade will operate under the command of a Tanzanian general, according to MONUSCO.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) already has troops deployed to the DRC as part of MONUSCO. President Jacob Zuma last month authorised until the end of April next year the employment of 1 267 SANDF personnel in the DRC “for service in fulfilment of international obligations of South Africa towards the United Nations.”
Another 11 SANDF members will be based in the DRC until April 2014 to assist with capacity building of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) with a further 67 South African soldiers to be deployed as trainers for the FARDC.