UN peacekeeping exit in DRC paused amid risk of wider conflict News
MONUSCO Photos, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
UN peacekeeping exit in DRC paused amid risk of wider conflict

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) informed the UN Security Council on Monday that phase one of the departure of the UN-DRC peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, had been completed on June 25, but the DRC’s representative stressed that the next withdrawal phase will be addressed when conditions permit, with no further information on the timeline for the next two phases. The pause in the phased-out exit was said to be due to Rwanda’s continued aggression in North Kivu.

The head of MONUSCO, Bintou Keita, raised concerns to the Security Council that rebel activity from the 23 March Movement (M23) carries the “very real risk of provoking a wider regional conflict”. M23 is a rebel military group that has been found by a UN expert group to be supported by Rwanda and has been responsible for unlawful killings, rapes and other apparent war crimes in the DRC since late 2022.

The UN peacekeeping effort in the DRC has been ongoing for two decades, but in February the UN began its withdrawal with the transfer of its first base of operations to the Congolese government. Bintou Keita’s MONSUSCO Report (S/2024/482), covering the period from March 20 to June 19, reported 1,169 human rights violations and abuses documented across the country. In the conflict-affected areas, M23 was responsible for most abuses, amongst other armed factions and state agents. Keita, in citing the 7.3 million displaced people, including 6.9 million in the eastern provinces alone, reiterated the situation in DRC as “one of the most severe, complex and neglected humanitarian crises of our times.”

Speaking about the ending of MONUSCO operations Keita noted that the efforts will require “a decisive will on the part of the authorities to convince the armed groups of the need for disarmament and a longer-term commitment from international partners.” Statements by members of the Security Council affirmed the concern, particularly of M23 forces. The representative of the UK advocated for MONUSCO’s transition period to be responsible and careful to avoid a security vacuum.

The representative of the DRC pointed out that the attacks by M23 have been brought to the council’s attention numerous times, but the council’s silence has encouraged Rwanda and M23 to continue their destabilization of the DRC. The representative also called for a thorough examination of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission and for the Security Council to reconsider “becoming enablers of genocidal forces.”