The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today said it was extending by another week an operation designed to enhance the protection of civilians in the eastern areas of the country where members of illegal armed groups raped some 240 people recently.
The UN mission, known as MONUSCO, last week launched the operation known as Shop Window, intended as a show of force and to boost protection of residents of the villages of Pinga, Kibua and Walikale in North Kivu province, where the mass rapes took place. The operation has been extended until 15 September.
The operation, carried out by some 750 peacekeepers with the support of attack and observation helicopters, is also aimed at providing security cover to efforts by the national authorities to apprehend those suspected of committing the rapes in villages along a 21-kilometre stretch of road in North Kivu between 30 July and 2 August.
Eight of nine new operational bases have already been set up under the new measure. As of Monday, 165 patrols and 21 helicopter reconnaissance flights had been conducted. The operation is also intended to be a tool to gather information on armed groups in the area and to meet local officials and community leaders.