A UN review has set a timeline of three years within which the 16,000 peacekeeping force will be pulled out of DR Congo – ending nearly 20 years of a controversial mission from which little has changed on the ground.
The confidential report for Secretary General Antonio Guterres leaked Wednesday sets conditions including requiring government of President Felix Tshisekedi to demonstrate it can handle a post-MONUSCO era. The withdrawal is not automatic.
It is not the first time a timeline has been set to leave, only to be dropped, on the explanation that the situation remained fragile. The latest timeline comes in the wake of MONUSCO’s cosmetic comments last month in which it indicated opposition to planned arrival of regional forces.
Kinshasa has in closed door meetings been planning to invite Rwanda, Ugandan, Burundian and Tanzanian troops to uproot foreign armed groups. The operations, set for this November until May next year, appear to have encountered hurdles recently.
In Guterres’ withdrawal plans to be decided on in late December, the UN will however maintain a “political and Human rights” presence after 2022.
The proposal is to withdraw all troops from two provinces: Tanganyika and Kasai, in the first year. Then pull out from the Kivus in the second year. And then in the last year, all active military units will have been sent home.
The current budget is $1billion, nearly 35% of Rwanda’s 2019-2020 budget which is taking care of a 12m population.
If all goes as planned, the remaining mission will include civilian advisors, military and police units to monitor progress of how government and otger players evolve.
As the situation stands now, there is an unknown number of militia groups operating from the vast eat. In south Kivu, war is raging involving Rwandan and Burundian groups, with a social media campaign calling the killings taking place there as genocide.
There are tens of thousands of Congolese in refugee camps in Rwanda and other regional neighbors – all of whom are desperate for end to the chaos to return home.
The UN Secretary General was in DRC in September.