UN extends Congo peacekeeping force with an eye to its exit

Dec 20, 2022, 1:10 AM | Updated: 3:15 pm

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo with an eye to its eventual exit, and to lift a notification requirement on some arms purchases which Congo’s foreign minister recently called “unjustified and humiliating.”

The separate resolutions were approved amid worsening security in Congo’s mineral-rich east, a region rife with rebel groups and an upsurge in violence and civilian killings that has uprooted tens of thousands of its inhabitants.

The resolution extending the U.N. peacekeeping force known as MONUSCO until Dec. 20, 2023, strongly condemns all domestic and foreign armed groups operating in the country and demands they immediately cease all violence and destabilizing actions “and the illegal exploitation and trafficking of natural resources.”

It also demands the immediate withdrawal of M23 rebels, who have been fighting a coalition of armed civilian protection militias in the east for more than a year, as agreed at a mini-summit in the Angolan capital Luanda in late November and endorsed by the African Union. It also expresses concern about reported links between Uganda-based Allied Democratic Forces rebels and “terrorist networks” in eastern Congo.

The Security Council said Congo “continues to suffer from recurring and evolving cycles of conflict and persistent violence by foreign and domestic armed groups, which exacerbate a deeply concerning security, human rights and humanitarian crisis, as well as inter-communal and militia violence” in areas of the country.

It expressed great concern at the humanitarian situation in the country that has left an estimated 27 million Congolese in need of aid, a growing number of internally displaced people now estimated at 5.7 million as well as 523,000 refugees from other nearby countries, and 1 million refugees from Congo elsewhere in Africa as a result of ongoing hostilities.

The resolution strongly urged all Congolese political players to implement “critical governance, security and economic reforms,” and to deliver on President Felix Tshisekedi’s commitments to pursue national unity, strengthen the rule of law and respect for human rights, fight against corruption, and launch development programs to reduce poverty.

It urged the government to hold accountable those responsible for violating human rights and international humanitarian law. It strongly condemned sexual violence, especially by armed groups, welcomed government efforts to combat and prevent the scourge, and urged the government to strengthen its efforts to combat impunity for rape and other sexual abuse.

The resolution maintains MONUSCO’s troop ceiling at 13,500 military personnel, 600 military observers and staff officers, and about 2,000 police.

MONUSCO’s mission, which was streamlined in Tuesday’s resolution, is primarily to protect civilians threatened by violence, secondly to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate combatants, and thirdly to provide strategic and technical advice on reforming Congo’s security sector.

U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood, noting that the United States is the largest single financial contributor to MONUSCO, said his government voted for the resolution because it maintains human rights as “a priority task” for the mission.

In April, east African leaders decided to deploy a regional force to eastern Congo to tackle tensions and violence fueled by the armed groups.

Wood said the resolution “crucially” urges the regional force to coordinate operations with MONUSCO.

The U.N. peacekeeping force was the target of deadly summertime protests by residents who said armed groups were still roaming the east and the U.N. force wasn’t protecting them. The peacekeepers were also accused of retaliating against the protesters, sometimes with force.

After the anti-U.N. protests, president Tshisekedi called a meeting to reassess MONUSCO’s presence. The government called for a review of the transition plan for MONUSCO, and Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula later mentioned 2024 as the goal for the force’s withdrawal.

The Security Council encouraged the U.N. and Congo’s government, in collaboration with civil society, to “identify concrete and realistic steps to be undertaken, as a matter of priority, to create the minimum security conditions to enable the responsible and sustainable exit of MONUSCO.” It called on MONUSCO and other U.N. staff in Congo to collaborate on priority actions to prepare for the force’s exit.

Wood, the U.S. envoy, said the U.N., Congolese officials and civil society should agree on any further steps toward MONUSCO’s eventual drawdown, and they “should avoid exposing vulnerable populations to further harm.”

Congo’s Lutundula urged the council earlier this month to drop the requirement for the government to notify the Security Council sanctions committee of certain weapons purchases, saying the country couldn’t reorganize its military and security forces to address terrorism without the freedom to equip them.

The second brief resolution lifted this requirement, a decision welcomed by Russia, China and others that had been advocating for ending notifications.

Gabon’s U.N. Ambassador Michel Biang said ending the requirement “will lift all of the obstacles” Congo faces “to give a proper and effective response to armed groups who are pillaging resources and committing atrocities on civilians in the east.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - In this July 12, 2017 file photo, an issue of the National Enquirer featuring President Dona...
Associated Press

National Enquirer, ensnared in “catch-and-kill” is sold

The National Enquirer, the scandal-plagued tabloid that engaged in “catch-and-kill” practices to bury stories about Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, has been sold. VVIP is also buying the National Examiner and Globe from magazine publisher a360 Media in an all-cash deal, though exact financial terms were not disclosed. In December 2018 the parent company […]
1 day ago
Patriot missile launchers acquired from the U.S. last year are seen deployed in Warsaw, Poland, Mon...
Associated Press

Poland deploys Patriot batteries to capital city, Warsaw

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Patriot missile batteries that Poland acquired from the U.S. last year have been deployed to the country’s capital Warsaw as part of military exercise, according to Poland’s defense ministry. Poland is taking additional steps to strengthen its defensive capabilities as Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine enters its second year later this […]
1 day ago
FILE - People visit the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida...
Associated Press

Florida to begin session on Disney district, migrant flights

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers will meet Monday to complete a state takeover of Walt Disney World’s self-governing district and expand a migrant relocation program, key conservative priorities of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of his expected White House run. Republican leaders of the statehouse, in coordination with DeSantis, have ordered the Legislature to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Media watchdog urges release of journalist detained in Kabul

PARIS (AP) — Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders along with 14 French media outlets and production companies on Monday called on Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to release a journalist imprisoned for a month in Kabul. In a joint statement, RSF and French media said journalist Mortaza Behboudi, with dual French and Afghan citizenship, was arrested on […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Liz Weston: ‘Bridge’ your way to Social Security

Delaying the start of Social Security benefits is a powerful way for retirees to cope with inflation, survive bad investment markets and reduce the risk they’ll run short of money. The advantages of waiting are so great that financial planners often recommend their clients tap other savings, such as retirement funds, to help them delay […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

48 arrested in Europe over encrypted app used in drug trade

BERLIN (AP) — European investigators have shut down an encrypted communication service that was used as a secure channel for organized crime, particularly in the drug trade, and arrested 48 people, German authorities said Monday. More than 70 properties were searched in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland on Friday, when the arrests were made, […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
UN extends Congo peacekeeping force with an eye to its exit