UN agencies voices alarm over renewed clashes in eastern DR Congo

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Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau
UNITED NATIONS, 21st Feb.
UN peacekeeping mission in DRC on Tuesday has called on the M23 rebels to cease its offensive, after reports of a renewed escalation of hostilities in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

UN Spokesperson Stepane Dujarric said the Security Council is holding a meeting today on DRC to discuss the situation.

The UN Mission, MONUSCO called on the group to respect the Luanda roadmap, an agreement signed in 2022 by Angola, DRC and Rwanda that strives for peace in the conflict-affected eastern part of the country.

MONUSCO is carrying out a three-phase process of withdrawal from the country following a UN Security Council resolution adopted in December that would see the gradual handover of responsibility to the Congolese Government later this year.

It said that fighting between Government forces and the M23 group indiscriminate bombing has strained limited resources to accommodate 800,000 internally displaced people in the region, and 2.5 million others displaced across North Kivu province.

UNHCR reported that the impact of devastating flooding continues to affect the DRC.

Some 100,000 houses, 1,325 schools, 267 health facilities and large swathes of agricultural land have been damaged

MONUSCO to support the Congolese army by defending major routes leading to key towns of Sake and Goma in North Kivu province, the UN Spokesperson  Dujarric said.

He added that due to the deteriorating security situation around Sake and Goma, the Mission is reinforcing its presence there by bringing in peacekeepers from its Force Intervention Brigade based in Beni, in the northern part of the province.

MONUSCO met with the coordinator of the Congolese armed forces in North Kivu to coordinate joint military action in the defence of both Sake and Goma, he said.

The Mission expressed concern over disinformation campaigns targeting peacekeepers, which is hampering the peacekeepers’ ability to implement their mandate.

Mr. Dujarric said that peacekeepers are to facilitate safe passage of civilians fleeing the fighting to more secure areas, including around the Kitchanga base, where some 25,000 civilians have sought UN protection.

UN peacekeeping Operations head Jean-Pierre Lacroix visited MONUSCO with Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, and Christian Saunders, Special Coordinator for Improving UN Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix reviewed the Mission’s ongoing work in the context of the disengagement plan jointly agreed upon by the Government.

“It is essential that the transfer of responsibility for security and the protection of civilians takes place at the same time as MONUSCO withdraws from certain sensitive areas where peacekeepers ensure the physical safety of several hundred thousand civilians,” Mr. Lacroix said.

He called on the M23 group to cease hostilities.

UN Special Representative for DR Congo, Bintou Keita head of the MONUSCO condemned a series of attacks on UN staff in Kinshasa, called on Congolese authorities to launch an investigation.

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