For MONUSCO it’s civilian protection as usual notwithstanding pending closure

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That the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will wrap up at year-end is a definite but it does not mean any slowdown or cutback in operations to protect civilians until then.

This was made clear in New York on Wednesday 17 January by senior spokesman Stephane Dujarric during a regular weekly briefing.

He told media MONUSCO peacekeepers responded to alerts and information of violence and attacks by CODECO militia in Ituri province in line with the mission’s civilian protection efforts. CODECO is a loose association of Lendu militia groups and is an acronym for the Co-operative for Development of the Congo.

“In Nya, close to Djugu territory in Ituri province, MONUSCO deployed a patrol to protect civilians and support local leaders negotiating the release of five persons abducted by the group. The mission also intervened in response to an attack against a position of the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) in Tcha, about 30 km north-east of Bunia.

“Peacekeepers continue to protect civilians who sought refuge close to a MONUSCO temporary base in the Drodo area in Ituri. As informed previously, our peacekeepers sent a patrol to the area in response to clashes between CODECO and Zaire militia. The situation is now reported calm,” Dujarric said.

The withdrawal of the East African Community Reaction Force (EACRF) from the eastern DRC and deployment of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission – SAMIDRC – was on the agenda in Kampala, Uganda, this week when senior ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) staffers met with General Wilson Mbadi, Uganda Peoples’ Defence Force (UPDF) Chief.

Mbadi is reported a telling ICRC Head of Regional Delegation Christoph Sutter that the DRC is “in a better position to explain the presence of South African and SADC troops” in the country, adding “more troops meant the country is ready for an armed conflict, people are disturbed and Uganda will have more refugees”.

There has, to date, been no response to a defenceWeb SADC request for information on the make-up of SAMIDRC, particularly what the regional bloc calls its “force” comprising elements of the Malawi, South African and Tanzanian defence forces.