UN peacekeepers start leaving conflict-torn African state — RT Africa

UN peacekeepers start leaving conflict-torn African state — RT Africa

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The move is part of the MONUSCO peacekeeping mission’s withdrawal from the DR Congo

The UN stabilization mission (MONUSCO) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has withdrawn troops from its first military base in the country’s eastern region, where anti-government rebels have intensified deadly attacks in recent weeks.

Peacekeepers handed over equipment at the Kamanyola camp in South Kivu province to the DR Congo police on Wednesday as the mission began a gradual disengagement from the conflict-torn Central African state.

The eventual withdrawal of more than 12,000 troops in the DR Congo will take place in three phases over the course of this year, according to a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution adopted last December.

MONUSCO has been operating in the volatile east since 1999, but Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has demanded its “speedy” departure, claiming that it is time for Kinshasa to defend itself. He criticized the UN troops for failing to carry out their mandate to fight rebels, resolve armed conflicts, and protect civilians. The mission has also been at the center of deadly protests, with its forces repeatedly accused of brutally repressing protesters. Over 40 people were killed and several others injured in one such incident late last year, according to officials.

The UNSC extended the peacekeeping mandate until December 20, with 14 bases and facilities in South Kivu set to close by June.

The pullout on Wednesday comes amid renewed clashes between Congolese forces and the M23 rebel group, which the US and UN claim is backed by Rwanda, which Kigali denies.

Last week, the UN announced that MONUSCO troops were assisting the Congolese army in defending major routes leading to the towns of Sake and Goma, North Kivu province’s capital, in order to protect civilians. The escalating conflict and indiscriminate bombing have left thousands of people internally displaced in the eastern part of the former Belgian colony, the UN has said.

The M23 militant group, one of dozens of armed coalitions active in Eastern DR Congo for decades, has been accused of seizing large areas of land in North Kivu, forcing more than 800,000 people to flee their homes.

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