The latest UN Security council report on its single largest peace mission – MONUSCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – indicates a reconfigured Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) is expected to be operational by October this year.
No details are given for either manpower or materiel but the report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres states the reconfigured FIB will be “more flexible, agile and able to conduct both offensive and protection of civilians operations across North Kivu”.
This follows a joint UN/SADC (Southern African Development Community) task force created specifically to assess the FIB earlier this year. Meetings were held in New York and Goma with the southern African regional bloc represented by, among others, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Chief, Lieutenant General Barney Hlatshwayo.
“Two infantry battalions will be reduced to allow the generation of additional enablers that would improve manoeuvrability and enhance effectiveness. Additional enablers to be generated or reconfigured include a Special Forces company, a strengthened intelligence cell and a composite utility/attack helicopter unit. The reconfigured Intervention Brigade is expected to be fully operational by 30 September,” according to the report.
FIB strength currently stands at 2 826 under the command South African Brigadier General Patrick Dube. He has 1 126 Tanzanians and 850 troops each from Malawi and South Africa to utilise in an offensive role, the first time the world body has agreed to one of its peacekeeping missions proactively taking action to prevent death and injuries to civilians by rebel groups including ADF.
As far as safety and security of UN personnel in the DRC is concerned the Guterres’ reports notes that between March and June this year there were 202 incidents affecting UN personnel, uniformed components, assets and operations across the country.
Only 14 incidents were linked to armed conflict with the majority – 84 – being crime related. There were also 71 hazard related cases and 33 incidents of civil unrest.
“In the Beni area military operations against ADF contributed to the risk against UN personnel, premises and assets. Humanitarian access to some areas remains a challenge due to recurrent ADF attacks in the interior of Beni territory and areas near Beni town. On occasions, movement of UN personnel has been suspended or restricted, owing to risks associated with ADF,” according to the report.