MONUSCO honours DRC peacekeepers


The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has honoured the 159 soldiers who gave their lives for peace since the beginning of the Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

A ceremony was held Kinshasa on 29 May to mark International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, during which all 20 023 military peacekeepers in the DRC were also honoured.

Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN, said that since the creation of the United Nations, 3 200 UN peacekeepers had died. For MONUSCO, there were 11 deaths in 2013, with another four killed this year.
“We are here today to pay tribute to peacekeepers around the world giving their lives in the service of peace,” Kobler said, “We honour the sacred memory of our 106 colleagues who lost their lives in 2013 worldwide.”

South Africa has about 1 000 soldiers serving with Monusco and forces have been in the region for 12 years. Apart from a battalion of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers, three Rooivalk attack heliports and Oryx transport helicopters support the Mission.

The SANDF troops serve in the UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), along with soldiers from Tanzania and Malawi. The force works under Monusco to protect civilians in the DRC. Three South African soldiers were injured earlier this month in the (DRC) when they came under attack by an armed group.

Kobler thanked the peacekeepers in the DRC for their contribution to bring stability and peace to some of the most vulnerable people on earth and that it was their “tireless work that makes UN Peacekeeping a force for a better future.”
96% of the MONUSCO peacekeepers are located in the east of the DRC, but they were also present in the relatively peaceful west.
“What MONUSCO is doing here in DRC is unique, the world is looking at us and they are right because we are making history,” Kobler stated.

Commenting on FIB, Kobler stated that the Force Intervention Brigade had proven to be a game changer in the fight against armed groups.
“If the victory is the victory of the FARDC (Armed Forces of the DRC), the support of our troops was critical,” Kobler noted, “Clearly stated, it is robust operations that allow a robust peace.”

He mentioned the Italian-operated Unmanned Aerial Vehicles which not only gives MONUSCO the possibility to better prepare military operations, but also to conduct rescue operations. Such an example of the latter was the case last month in Lake Kivu when MONUSCO saved 14 passengers of a sunken boat.

Addressing the political and military authorities in the DRC, Kobler explained that MONUSCO will leave the country and that the Security Council of the United Nations had asked MONUSCO to develop an exit strategy.

However, this did not mean that the Mission would leave soon, but that it would as soon as the DRC Government created sustainable conditions for peace.