UN Official Urges Responsible Withdrawal of Peacekeepers from DRC Amid Rising Insecurity
In a significant announcement yesterday, a top United Nations (UN) official called for a swift yet responsible withdrawal of peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while emphasizing the need for the Congolese state to step up its efforts in combating the armed groups wreaking havoc in the country’s eastern regions.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, delivered his message during a visit to the DRC capital, Kinshasa. He expressed the UN’s commitment to continue working alongside Congolese authorities, stressing that the strengthening of the Congolese state was crucial for the gradual reduction of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). Lacroix, however, underscored the importance of ensuring a responsible withdrawal, without creating a security vacuum that could further endanger vulnerable populations.
The UN official acknowledged the growing frustration surrounding the peacekeeping efforts as insecurity levels persistently rise, particularly in the troubled eastern regions. Lacroix highlighted the recent violence during demonstrations and the concerns voiced by many about hate speech, xenophobia, misogyny, and ethnically charged rhetoric. Addressing these issues, he called for an immediate end to such divisive discourse, emphasizing the need for unity and stability within the country.
MONUSCO, one of the largest and costliest peacekeeping missions worldwide, with an annual budget of approximately $1 billion, has been present in the DRC since 1999. The mission’s primary objectives are to promote peace and stability, protect civilians, and uphold the rule of law and human rights. Lacroix’s statement signals a recognition of the evolving situation and the mission’s need to adapt, enabling the Congolese state to assume a greater responsibility for ensuring security within its borders.
As the international community closely watches the developments in the DRC, the UN’s call for a responsible withdrawal of peacekeepers and the urgent need for the Congolese state to take decisive action against armed groups reflect the mounting challenges faced in the pursuit of lasting peace and stability in the region.