A UN Security Council resolution giving one of its multi-national peacekeeping forces an offensive mandate has already made an impact, by contributing to removing the immediate threat posed by M23 rebels to Goma in the DRC.
Herve Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations, said M23 “suffered casualties and that is the reason why they have retreated to, presumably, lick their wounds”.
He told a media briefing at UN headquarters in New York on Thursday that the actions taken by the Forward Intervention Brigade (FIB), in support of the FARDC offensive against M23 positions outside Goma, had allowed MONUSCO to strengthen its position to defend the city, its inhabitants as well as the local populace in the surrounding area.
“M23 no longer presents a direct threat to Goma, the surrounding camps for internally displaced persons or MONUSCO positions,” he said.
The South African component of the FIB, along with Tanzanian soldiers, acquitted its self well during the offensive that saw M23 dislodged from positions in Kibati Heights, about 11 km outside the eastern DRC city.
The FIB, under the command of Tanzanian Brigadier James Mwakibolwa, is still awaiting its final troops from Malawi and has been given an initial 12 month operational mandate by the UN.
Earlier this month UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said the FIB was “an appropriate tool” to assist in bringing stability to the eastern DRC.
The DRC situation will come under discussion on the 23rd of this month during a special event on the sidelines of the official opening of the UN General Assembly.
On the Malian situation Ladsous said MINUSMA (UN Multi-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission) currently had a military strength of 5 201 and about 800 police officers with additional contingents due to arrive from other African countries, Asia and Latin America.
The process of addressing the root causes of conflict in Mali are “a continuous effort but one that so far looks promising” he said.
“The work being done by MINUSMA is only one stage in a stabilisation process in a country that since early last year has witnessed a military coup, renewed fighting between government forces and Tuareg rebels and the seizure of its northern territory by radical Islamists.”
Ladsous termed the situation in Sudan and South Sudan “a yo-yo, at one stage things get better but then worsen”.
“It is currently a positive phase following a successful meeting between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan.”