The UN is deploying rapid-reaction units in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to help contain armed groups, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, said.
The decision came after President Felix Tshisekedi announced security measures, including declaring a state of siege in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, bordering Uganda, to contain armed groups.
During the 30-day state of siege that entered into effect last Thursday, the provincial governments of Ituri and North Kivu are now led by the military governor, with the police chief as vice governor, according to a presidential order.
Lacroix said UN forces would continue to collaborate with the new military authorities appointed in the two provinces.
He told UN-run Radio Okapi on Monday that President Tshisekedi’s decision to declare a state of siege reflects a willingness to commit more forces to address the problem of insecurity in the eastern part of the country.
“We are working together. For our part, we are working to strengthen MONUSCO [The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC] in the region while waiting for the Rapid Intervention Brigade. We are in the process of deploying additional rapid reaction units,” Lacroix said.
The UN official explained that eastern DRC is marred by ethnic tensions, the criminal economy and porous borders encourage a certain number of trafficking.
“We are also working to ensure that the exploitation of the natural resources of these regions benefits the country and the community” and not the criminal groups, he concluded.
The DRC has been plagued by violence for decades as several rebel groups fight with each other or against the country’s military and UN forces for territorial control.
According to the UN, exploitation of natural resources continues to be a root cause and driver of conflict. It is said that most of the armed groups have set aside their political demands and are involved in mineral trafficking.
More than five million people have been uprooted by insecurity and violence in the DRC in the last two years, with nearly 2 million displaced in North Kivu Province alone, according to UN estimates.
Source: Anadolu Agency