In anticipation of its reconfiguration, the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo is preparing to withdraw its Senegalese contingent from the post at Dingila, situated over 500 kilometres north of Kisangani, in Bas-Uele district.
MONUC Force Commander, General Babacar Gaye, announced this during a mission he carried out to Isiro and Dingila in the remote eastern region on April 21st.
General Gaye said he came to inform not only the Senegalese contingent but especially the population of this coming departure of peacekeepers and consequent closure of the MONUC base there. General Gaye was accompanied by the Commander of the 9th Military Region of the Armed Forces of the DRC, Brigadier General Jean Claude Kifwa.
General Kifwa explained he was part of this trip so as to be able to assess technical conditions for FARDC troops to takeover as quickly as possible before the last Blue helmet pulls out.
The announced withdrawal of MONUC Blue Helmets, however, raised concern among the population of Dingila who wish for the peacekeeping contingent to stay and protect people against security threats from Ugandan rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) plaguing the region of Haut and Bas Uele.
In a memorandum to authorities, a copy of which was presented to General Gaye, local society organisations declare themselves convinced that the withdrawal of Blue Helmets might lead not only to insecurity in Dingila but also a pullout of humanitarian agencies present in the region. They call for MONUC to maintain its presence and to deploy peacekeepers to Ango, Dakwa and Banda in Ango territory.
Mindful of the vacuum that MONC troops will leave behind, General Gaye reassured the population, saying: “I am convinced that the FARDC troops, deploying with a maximum of support and with good chiefs leading the company which will be based here, will certainly handle things in the same way that the 321st battalion did in Equateur, that is to say, by displaying professional behaviour.”
The Senegalese Blue Helmets stationed at Dingila are among those 2000 peacekeepers that might leave the DRC by the end of June 2010, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended in his 31st report to the Council Security, on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Pending the Security Council’s approval of that recommendation, MONUC is already making adjustments to the deployment of its units so that it will be able to execute the reconfiguration order when it is issued.
Other adjustments are currently being planned, notably in the localities of the provinces located in the country’s western part. The objective is to ensure a smooth transition, guaranteeing security for the future.