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In January 2024, the DRC military announced the start of joint military operations with the military elements of SADC in the eastern part of the country.
On Wednesday, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix called on the rebellion of the March 23 Movement (M23) for an immediate cessation of hostilities in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
He made this remark during a press conference following his trip from Feb. 2 to 5 to the eastern part of the country, notably in Goma, Beni and Bukavu, where the security situation remains tense due to hostilities between the Congolese military and armed groups, including the M23.
On the ground during his trip, Lacroix discussed the security challenges at length with his interlocutors, the progressive and responsible disengagement of MONUSCO (the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the DRC) and the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.
During his meeting with General Dyakopu Monwabisi, the force commander of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the DRC, Lacroix stressed the importance of joint coordination to support the DRC military in their fight against armed groups in the eastern DRC.
���� Clashes between M23 rebels, army forces and self-defence groups that support them have escalated recently in the #DRCongo.
�� The violence has prompted thousands of civilians to flee, as a fresh advance by M23 rebels is treating to isolate the city of #Goma �� pic.twitter.com/P9JyyvaYrD
In January 2024, the DRC military announced the start of joint military operations with the military elements of SADC in the eastern part of the country, with an offensive mandate, mainly targeting the M23 which occupies several areas in the territory of Masisi and that of Rutshuru in the North Kivu province.
"In its resolution 2717, the Security Council mandated MONUSCO to examine ways in which it could provide limited logistical and operational support to the SADC force. The Mission is currently exploring options for materialization of this support. Proposals will be made to the Security Council, which will decide on the nature and modalities of this support," said Lacroix during the press conference.
In Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations had a meeting with the DRC President Felix Tshisekedi Tuesday, where Lacroix called for a strengthening of the presence and capacity of the Congolese defense and security forces in Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, the three provinces that MONUSCO would leave in the framework of its disengagement plan from the country.
"It is essential and desirable that the transfer of responsibilities for security and protection of civilians be effective in parallel with the withdrawal of MONUSCO from certain sensitive areas where blue helmets ensure the physical security of several hundred thousand civilians," said Lacroix.
The MONUSCO withdrawal will take place in three phases, starting with a complete withdrawal of MONUSCO military and police components from the eastern province of South Kivu by April 30, 2024.