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  • Mr. Lacroix’ visit to the eastern part of the country included stops in Goma, Beni and Bukavu. Photo: MONUSCO
    Mr. Lacroix’ visit to the eastern part of the country included stops in Goma, Beni and Bukavu. Photo: MONUSCO

Peacekeeping Chief calls on the M23 to cease hostilities during a visit to the DR Congo

The Under-Secretary-General for UN Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, recently visited the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to review the Mission’s ongoing work in the context of the disengagement plan jointly agreed upon by the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and MONUSCO. He was accompanied by Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, and Christian Saunders, Special Coordinator for Improving UN Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

On 19 December 2023, the UN Security Council extended MONUSCO’s mandate for another year and set out a comprehensive disengagement plan through the adoption of Resolution 2717. The resolution includes three distinct and successive phases and the gradual handover of responsibility from the mission to the Government. 

The first phase of the disengagement will lead to a withdrawal of the Mission from South Kivu province by the end of June 2024. During this phase, MONUSCO bases in South Kivu will be handed over to the Government, which will assume full responsibility of the province. 

Mr. Lacroix’ visit to the eastern part of the country included stops in Goma, Beni and Bukavu. During his field visit, Mr. Lacroix met with provincial authorities, civil society representatives, MONUSCO personnel, and the South African Development Community (SADC)’s military leadership in the DRC (SAMIDRC). 

The Under-Secretary-General discussed security challenges and called on the M23 to immediately cease its offensive in eastern DRC and to respect the Luanda Roadmap. He expressed his solidarity with the affected populations and reiterated MONUSCO's commitment to implementing its protection of civilian mandate. 

During his meeting with the SAMIDRC Force Commander, General Dyakopu Monwabisi, he stressed the importance of joint coordination to support the Congolese national army in their fight against armed groups in eastern DRC. 

"In Resolution 2717, the Security Council mandated MONUSCO to examine ways in which it could provide limited logistical and operational support to the SADC force (SAMIDRC). The Mission is currently exploring options for providing this support. Proposals will be made to the Security Council, which will decide on the nature of this support and its modalities", Mr. Lacroix explained.

In Kinshasa, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations had an audience with President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo. He called for a rapid reinforcement of the presence and capacity of the Congolese defense and security forces in Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, the three provinces that MONUSCO is due to leave as part of its disengagement from the country. 

"It is essential that the transfer of responsibility for security and the protection of civilians takes place at the same time as MONUSCO withdraws from certain sensitive areas where peacekeepers ensure the physical safety of several hundred thousand civilians," Mr. Lacroix said.