Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo – The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) recently announced its intervention in protecting civilians fleeing violent attacks in the eastern region of the DRC. This peacekeeping mission deployed troops to secure a designated corridor and sheltered around 1,000 displaced people while also aiming to protect the civilians with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FADRC).
The town of Mweso, located in DRC’s North Kivu province, was hit by rebels who shelled and dropped mortar bombs, resulting in the death of 19 people, injuring 27 others, and causing a significant number of civilians to flee from their homes. The army accused the 23 March Movement (M23) rebel group of being behind the attack, which has heightened tensions between Rwanda and the DRC.
M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa has accused the DRC army of using drones and heavy artillery to bomb the town, leading to the death of innocent civilians. This accusation has only added to the already escalated tensions between Rwanda and the DRC, as the DRC alleges that Rwanda supports the M23 rebel group, a claim that Rwanda consistently denies.
The UN has emphasized that clashes between the M23 and the FARDC are becoming more frequent and stronger, worsening the security situation in the country. Despite this, the DRC has requested a gradual withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission, which has been present in the country since 1999 as MONUC and was renamed as MONUSCO in 2010. The Security Council has acceded to this request and set out a three-phased “comprehensive disengagement plan”, with the mandate renewed for another year, expiring on December 20, 2024.
The unrest in the eastern DRC has been ongoing for decades, and the DRC government considers MONUSCO ineffective in controlling the armed conflicts. The deteriorated security situation in the region has prompted the DRC to request the withdrawal of the peacekeeping mission to address the ongoing challenges independently.