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Sunday April 14, 2024

UN peacekeepers begin withdrawal from eastern Congo

By REUTERS
March 01, 2024
A MONUSCO peacekeeper looks on at the forces base during a field training exercise in Sake, DRC. — AFP File
A MONUSCO peacekeeper looks on at the force's base during a field training exercise in Sake, DRC. — AFP File 

KAMANYOLA, Democratic Republic of Congo: United Nations troops began their gradual withdrawal from restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, handing over a base to Congolese authorities, the peacekeeping mission said in a statement.

The peacekeeping force, known as MONUSCO, has been deployed in Congo for more than 13 years after taking over from an earlier UN operation in 2010 to help quell insecurity in the east of the Central African country, where armed groups fight over territory and resources.

But in recent years, the presence of the 13,500-strong force has become increasingly unpopular for its perceived failure to protect civilians against rising militia violence, sparking deadly protests.

The UN Security Council approved the end of the mission in December after President Felix Tshisekedi in September requested the mission’s withdrawal be fast-tracked.

At the Kamanyola base in South Kivu, a contingent of Pakistani peacekeepers lowered the UN flag as MONUSCO head Bintou Keita handed over the keys to provincial authorities.