UN Peacekeepers End Operations in DR Congo’s South Kivu Region

UN peacekeepers have ceased operations in DR Congo’s restive South Kivu province after more than 20 years, officials said on Tuesday, in line with previously-announced plans.

The MONUSCO mission “is ceasing its operations today in South Kivu province,” said a statement. “From 1 May, 2024 the mission’s mandate, including its responsibility to protect civilians ceases in this province.”

The mission, which had begun to wind down in January, will now limit operations to the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, it said.

At the government’s request, the UN passed a resolution in December 2023 to withdraw its peacekeepers from South Kivu by the start of May.

Some uniformed personnel will remain to provide security for UN staff and facilities, but they will leave by June 30, leaving a residual team of civilians in place.

MONUSCO stressed that “UN agencies, funds and programmes will continue to provide support in line with their respective mandates” in the country.

The first UN peacekeepers were deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2003 and to date more than 100,000 “blue helmet” troops have served in violence-wracked South Kivu.

MONUSCO head Bintou Keita stated that “responsibility for the security and physical protection of civilians now lies with the defence and security forces of DRC, who will continue to undertake this responsibility in close coordination with community and other local leaders.”

The 15,000 MONUSCO troops deployed in the vast central African country started to leave in February at the request of the Kinshasa government, which considers them ineffective.

A second phase of a three-stage UN departure plan concerns war-torn North Kivu, where M23 rebels, backed by Rwanda army units, have seized swathes of territory.

As part of its disengagement, MONUSCO stated it had transferred two military bases to national authorities.

Of seven remaining military bases, five will be transferred to the DRC armed forces in the coming two months, and two will close.

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