Top UN peacekeeping official says MONUSCO not leaving DR Congo


MONUSCO will not leave the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the lurch and will continue efforts to ensure elections planned for 2023 go ahead without problems, the UN’s senior peacekeeping official said while in the central African country last week.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, who goes by the official title of UN under-secretary-general for peace operations, was in DRC to meet senior government and civil society representatives as well as top commanders of MONUSCO, the major UN peacekeeping mission in the world and the only one with an offensive mandate. This translates into a Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), staffed by Southern African Development Community (SADC) members Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania.

On any possible exit of MONUSCO, Lacroix told media there is “no plan determining the exit of MONUSCO in three, four or five years. That is an artificial timeline disconnected from reality and evolution of the situation in DRC”.

He added there would be a gradual withdrawal linked to objectives jointly set by the DRC government and the world body. These mainly go about the security situation and restoration of government authority across the sprawling country.

“Efforts need to be made on security sector reform, including necessary and essential reforms for FARDC (the DRC defence force) and establishing a lasting reinforced security environment. This implies FARDC is able to maintain a permanent presence, especially in areas recaptured from armed groups after joint interventions (the UN force and FARDC),” he said.

Lacroix said the Congolese people wanted the UN presence to remain. “Where we are, the population tells us ‘stay and be more visible’. This is not the case for all parts of the country because resources are limited.”

He also pointed to strengthening the FIB, presumably referring to the addition of four companies as quick reaction forces (QRFs), as well as other unspecified MONUSCO capabilities in collaboration with FARDC.