Sponsors of the Goodwill Parcels Project are right now experiencing a sense of deja vu – 12 months ago they were scheduled to deliver home-grown festive cheer to South African soldiers deployed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
That delivery visit was put on hold – eventually for three months – due to fighting in particularly the eastern part of the central African country with safety cited as the reason for postponement.
The same happened this year.
A flight carrying sponsors, representatives of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Spouses Forum and selected media was due to return from Goma on Friday, 6 December after delivering this year’s collection of goodwill parcels. While the exact details of the delivery visit were not available, indications are the group would have been based in Goma and probably visited a few “safer” forward bases as well as the SA Air Force’s (SAAF) combined helicopter unit (CHU).
This will not happen due to an increased level of armed activity over the past two weeks by any number of armed militia groups including the ADF.
Recent events in eastern DR Congo include an assault on and torching of buildings occupied by UN personnel in Beni; the killing of 29 civilians, allegedly by ADF fighters; and the evacuation of World Health Organisation (WHO) and DR Congo government and NGO healthcare workers from Ebola treatment centres in danger of attacks by militia. The increased level of armed activity, aimed at both DR Congo armed forces and the United Nations (MONUSCO), has seen increased patrol operations by MONUSCO and its FIB (Force Intervention Brigade).
At the time of publication no firm date had been set for delivery and handover of the 2019 goodwill parcels to DR Congo-based South African airmen, medics and soldiers. Indications are it will happen in the new year.
The goodwill parcel delivery to troops deployed on the border protection tasking Operation Corona is understood to be starting in the second week of December.