Joint Kenya/SA patrol in eastern DRC proof of continental peace commitment

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What the Kenyan Ministry of Defence termed “a significant development” saw soldiers from the East African country part of a joint patrol with colleagues in arms from South Africa on the Beni-Eringeti main supply route (MSR) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Congolese component of the Kenyan patrol was drawn from its quick reaction force currently deployed in the central African country with the South African element drawn from RSABATT (Republic of South Africa Battalion) on duty with the United Nations’ MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB).

The Beni-Eringeti MSR has long been a focal point of instability and conflict in the region, the Kenya Defence Ministry said in a statement to mark the joint patrol. It is a lifeline for humanitarian assistance and movement of goods and services “thus making it crucial to secure and maintain”. The joint patrol marked “a significant step in achieving this goal”.

“MONUSCO,” the statement has it, “works tirelessly to stabilise eastern DRC, plagued by armed conflict, ethnic tensions and the presence of various armed groups.

“The deployment of the Kenyan QRF and RSABATT (currently 10 SA Infantry [SAI] Battalion) is part of MONUSCO’s ongoing efforts to bolster its presence in the region and enhance capacity to respond rapidly to emerging threats.

“The joint patrol covered a critical stretch of the Beni-Eringeti MSR, which is susceptible to attacks by various militias and armed groups. The patrol aimed to deter potential aggressors, ensure safe passage of humanitarian aid and provide a visible presence to reassure local communities.

“The joint patrol was not without challenges, as terrain is rugged and remote, which posed a challenge to manoeuvre. Troops demonstrated their resolve and professionalism, earning praise from UN officials,” the statement reads.

Kenya has a longstanding history of contributing troops to international peacekeeping missions and its QRF unit received extensive training to handle complex security challenges. The collaboration between troops of the two nations serving under MONUSCO highlights the multinational effort to bring peace to the DRC, according to the Kenyan defence ministry.

While challenges persist in eastern DRC, the joint patrol by the Kenyan QRF and RSABATT units represents “a significant stride to enhancing security along the Beni-Eringeti MSR”.

“It underscores the importance of international collaboration in peacekeeping efforts and sends a message that the international community remains committed to achieving lasting peace and stability in the region,” according to the statement.