MONUSCO early warning system prevents militia attacks

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A home-grown MONUSCO early warning system was put to good use in DR Congo’s Ituri province this month to prevent a rebel attack.

CAN, presumably a French acronym for the early warning system, is a community alert system set up by MONUSCO Civil Affairs section to facilitate interaction and information-sharing (alerts) between communities, the Congolese defence and security forces and MONUSCO according to a statement from the peacekeeping mission.

To this end, MONUSCO made 24-hour emergency hotlines available to communities to contact community liaison assistants (CLA) deployed at MONUSCO bases at no charge, to send out security alerts in real time allowing authorities and MONUSCO to co-ordinate prompt responses for rapid interventions. To date, in Ituri, fifty CANs are in place, mainly in Irumu, Djugu and Mahagi, according to a MONUSCO Civil Affairs officer in Bunia, describing the importance of this too in the protection of civilians chain the mission employs.

One such alert saw Bangladeshi peacekeepers intervene to thwart a planned attack by the armed group Codeco against civilians in Schubert village in Djugu territory.

“Arriving in the village, the blue helmets immediately dominated and secured the village, noting many residents left their homes fearing yet another incursion by gunmen. The patrol moved further west and observed suspicious movements from torch carrying militiamen.

The peacekeepers set off in pursuit of the militiamen who hid in tall grass before fleeing. The blue helmets successfully dominated the area all night to prevent further attacks,” a MONUSCO statement has it, adding the early warning system ensured rapid and effective intervention, saving many lives.

The same day another early warning system generated alert in Roe, 90km from Bunia, saw MONUSCO peacekeepers prevent an attack by another Codeco militia group.

“In co-ordination with FARDC (DR Congo armed forces) and Congolese national police, MONUSCO dispatched a patrol to Okapi. Sensing MONUSCO peacekeepers’ imminent arrival the militiamen fled and calm was restored to the area allowing villagers who fled to return home,” the MONUSCO statement read.