After the intensification of United Nations support to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in joint operations against an armed group known as the Allied Democratic Forces, the world body’s envoy to the vast African nation today called on the rebels to lay down their weapons.
On Saturday two UN attack helicopters fired on an ADF base in the Mbau region of the eastern province of North Kivu as part of operations with the DRC defence forces against the group, said Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN peacekeeping mission there, known by its French acronym MONUSCO.
“This highly precise operation will permit us to realize a clear objective – putting an end to the recurrent attacks of the ADF against civilian populations,” Mr. Kobler said in statement released by the mission.
The statement affirmed the determination of MONUSCO to use all means at its disposal to afford protection to all the populations that continued to live under the oppression of armed groups in the DRC.
“I exhort the last combatants of the ADF to immediately put down their arms and bring themselves to MONUSCO camps,” Mr. Kobler said.
The DRC has been torn apart by civil wars and factional fighting since it became independent from Belgium in 1960, but with the support of a series of UN missions a measure of stability has been restored to much of the country over the past decade.
But fighting between the Government and a variety of rebel and sectarian groups has continued to devastate the eastern regions, particularly North and South Kivu provinces, and the Security Council has charged MINUSCO with helping to protect the affected civilian population.
In March of last year, the Security Council authorized the deployment of an intervention brigade within MONUSCO, based in North Kivu province with a total of 3,069 peacekeepers, to carry out targeted offensive operations against armed groups threatening peace in eastern DRC.
In another statement issued today, Mr. Kobler affirmed that such operations would not be deterred by attacks on its personnel, after five UN peacekeepers were wounded when a MONUSCO vehicle was hit with grenades thrown by two persons on a motorcycle.
“This attack directed against MONUSCO is unacceptable and will not in any way diminish our support to the DRC armed forces in the fight against armed groups,” Mr. Kobler said, adding, “our mandate is to neutralize all illegal armed groups in the eastern DRC, and we are committed to implementing it.”