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MONUSCO Commences Phased Withdrawal from the Democratic Republic of Congo

Published February 29, 2024
4 months ago

After a quarter of a century of peacekeeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has officially initiated the process of withdrawal, starting with the transfer of its first base in South Kivu to the Congolese national police. This monumental step marks the beginning of the end for the UN's longest-running peacekeeping mission in the country.

MONUSCO's presence in the DRC has been a topic of contestation in recent times, with the Congolese government last year calling for its withdrawal, citing the mission's perceived ineffectiveness amidst ongoing civil unrest and violence. This pressure led to the formalization of a withdrawal strategy in December, with a resolution from the United Nations Security Council. The Council, however, has expressed apprehensions regarding the escalating tension and conflict in the eastern territories of the country.

The UN peacekeeping force has been a fixture in the DRC's landscape, with its current strength of approximately 15,000 personnel concentrating on the strife-ridden provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu, and Ituri. The disengagement from these regions follows a carefully planned three-phase approach aimed at ensuring an "orderly, responsible and sustainable" transition of responsibilities to Congolese authorities.

The situation on the ground, however, remains volatile. Goma, the capital of North Kivu, saw intensified skirmishes last month, with consequent civilian casualties and displacement. The violence has forced an exodus, with tens of thousands fleeing their homes and approximately six million people displaced overall due to the conflict.

The handover of the first MONUSCO base signifies a significant moment for the DRC and the UN. It is the beginning of a new chapter that will test the Congolese national forces' capability to maintain order and protect civilians in a region where armed groups have caused persistent instability. Concerns remain high among national and international observers about the impact of MONUSCO's gradual withdrawal.

The DRC government is steered to take comprehensive measures to ensure that the security vacuum left by the exiting peacekeepers does not exacerbate the situation. Strengthening the capacity of the national police and military, promoting political dialogue, and addressing the socio-economic conditions that fuel these conflicts are of paramount importance.

The international community continues to monitor this transition closely, understanding that the ultimate goal is for the DRC to achieve lasting peace and security autonomously.


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