According to a senior UN official, peacekeepers should leave the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as “quickly as possible” while still being responsible.
During a visit to the DRC, the UN official stated that the Congolese state should intensify its own response to the armed groups that afflict the east of the nation. He was speaking in Kinshasa, the capital.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix cautioned the Congolese government to step up its own reaction against armed groups in order to avoid creating a “security void that would be fatal” while speaking to media in the country’s capital Kinshasa.
“We’re obviously going to continue this work, and at the same time work with the Congolese authorities so that, as I said, the process of the Congolese state becoming more powerful will enable us to gradually reduce Monusco’s presence, but to do so responsibly. Once again, I would like to stress that there must be no security vacuum, which would be fatal to these populations.”
With an annual budget of over $1 billion, the UN peacekeeping operation in the DRC known as Monusco is one of the biggest and most expensive in the world. It has existed in the nation since 1999.
The UN official also acknowledged the frustration with the peacekeepers as the levels of insecurity remain alarmingly high in the country, particularly in the east
“Everyone has been concerned by the violence that occurred during recent demonstrations. Many of our interlocutors are concerned about hate speech, xenophobic rhetoric, misogynistic rhetoric and discourse based on ethnic confrontation, and of course it is essential to put an end to such rhetoric”, concluded the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations.
But in the DRC, where many people believe the troops are failing to stop bloodshed, the UN faces harsh criticism. During last year’s anti-UN rallies, dozens of people died.
In addition to the frightening levels of insecurity, Lacroix admitted “frustration” with the UN during the news conference in Kinshasa. He also noted that false reports concerning peacekeepers are frequently propagated.
He continued, emphasising that the security provided to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons in eastern DRC comes “almost exclusively” from UN personnel.
However, Lacroix stated that the group wishes to leave “as quickly as possible” in response to the request of Congolese authorities.