On Tuesday, a UN spokesperson announced that UN peacekeepers and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have initiated an operation to secure two eastern cities from the M23 militia.
“The peacekeeping mission, known by its French acronym as Monusco, on Tuesday announced Operation Springbok to secure the key regional towns of Goma and Sake,”Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
Dujarric stated that the operation is a response to the continued clashes between members of the M23 militia and armed groups in North Kivu Province, along with the M23’s advancements toward Sake.
“UN peacekeepers and the Congolese armed forces are patrolling in key areas to protect the population and deter further advances by the M23,” he said.
“The mission has also established security perimeters near the Kitchanga base to help protect 25,000 people who have sought refuge in that base and to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” he added.
Rebel groups, including M23, have subjected North Kivu in the Eastern DRC to persistent violent attacks for an extended period.
Recently, the DRC conveyed its disappointment regarding the slow progress of peacebuilding initiatives by the East African Community (EAC) since becoming a part of the regional economic bloc.
The DRC’s Information and Communication Minister, Patrick Muyaya, expressed concerns about the prolonged delay in achieving the desired peace in the troubled eastern region. He highlighted that some Congolese citizens are questioning the decision to join the EAC.
Muyaya admitted that the primary aim of joining the EAC was to foster connections with the region and facilitate peacebuilding. However, he observed limited progress toward these goals.
However, he underscored the DRC’s commitment to EAC membership, emphasizing their focus on reconstruction rather than perpetuating conflict.
The EAC had formed the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) as a peacekeeping unit to serve as a buffer between conflicting factions in the eastern region, involving government forces and the M23 rebel group.
The hope was to reach a political settlement and end the violence. Unfortunately, ongoing violence persists, even in the face of ceasefire agreements linked to the Nairobi and Luanda peace processes.
The lack of progress and continued insecurity in the region has led to a loss of faith in the EACRF among the Congolese government and its people. Many now desire the withdrawal of the regional force from the country when its mandate ends on December 8.
Muyaya has expressed the government’s reluctance to further extend the EACRF’s stay. The DRC’s decision was conveyed to the EAC through Deputy Defence Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba during a Sectoral Council on Defence Cooperation meeting held in Arusha.