UN support for SAMIDRC under discussion

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The M23 rebel group continues its offensive in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the United Nations’ (UN’s) senior peacekeeping official during a recent visit warning the rebel group to “immediately cease” its actions in the country’s east.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, told a weekly media briefing in DRC MONUSCO remained committed to protecting Congolese citizens. Part of the protection issue came under the spotlight when he met President Felix Tshisekedi in Kinshasa. Reinforcement of “the presence and capacity of Congolese defence and security forces in Ituri, North and South Kivu” was discussed in view UN peacekeepers due to exit these provinces soon in line with the mission disengagement plan.

He told the media briefing that fighting between the Congolese army and M23 displaced “at least 130 000 people in Masisi territory in the past two weeks”. This, Lacroix said, added to an already “dire situation” in North Kivu. Growing insecurity in Masisi stops 63 000 previously displaced people from access to medical care. This includes people injured and/or wounded during fighting.

“Clashes also impacted the road between Sake and Bweremana, a major route connecting North and South Kivu. This risks isolating Goma, a city of two million people, currently hosting more than 500 000 displaced people.”

News24 reports Lacroix met SAMIDRC (Southern African Development Community Mission in DRC) Commander Major General Monwabisi Dyakopu. The UN official emphasised the necessity for co-operation between the regional bloc mission and Congolese forces against “armed groups in eastern DRC”. The digital news site further reports Lacroix saying the UN Security Council was “working on how it could assist” SAMIDRC.

In Resolution 2717, the Security Council mandated MONUSCO to examine ways in which it could provide limited logistical and operational support to the SADC force. The mission is currently exploring options for providing this support. Proposals will be made to the Security Council, which will decide on the nature of this support and its modalities, he said.