MONUSCO Closes its Base in Lubero

On 26 December 2023, MONUSCO officially closed its base in Lubero, North Kivu, after 21 years of presence. / Photos MONUSCO

28 Dec 2023

MONUSCO Closes its Base in Lubero

Jean-Tobie Okala

MONUSCO officially closed its base in Lubero, located in North-Kivu, eastern DRC, after 21 years presence. The event took place on Tuesday, 26 December 2023 in its military base; in attendance, various contingents, namely Indians, South-Africans, Moroccans, Nepalese, as well as some members of the local population.

The ceremony raised lots of emotions among the local population. One of them recalled 20 years back: ‘’At the time, to get to Beni from Goma, the only means of transport available was by air. No businessman dared to use the road due to the presence of the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and other armed groups. MONUC’s arrival, later renamed MONUSCO, was marked by the arrival of the UN peacekeepers to reopen and secure the road.’’

The closing of the Lubero base fits into the framework of the closing of the Force military bases initiated since 2021, following a joint evaluation of the situation by MONUSCO and its Congolese partners.

The Mission must steadily continue to adapt to the evolution of the security environment in the three provinces of the eastern DRC, to the changes in the nature of the threats against civilians, and to ensure that its strategy and deployments are conducive for the implementation of the mandate.

Thererefore, the exit from Lubero is marked by the replacement of the UN flag by the one of the DRC. Despite the persisting challenges, namely the presence of more than 40 armed groups in the sole territory of Lubero, Colonel Alain Kiwewa, the territorial administrator, sees this transition as an opportunity for the Congolese forces to reinforce their commitment in securing the region. ‘’MONUSCO has done, its part, we must also do ours. We must make efforts to secure and stabilize our entity and more particularly the territory of Lubero’’, he declared.

MONUSCO played an important role in the repatriation of 25,000 members of the FDLR to Rwanda and in the demobilization of 11 ,000 ex-combatants in Lubero. Remarkable successes were recorded, such as the successful reintegration of the demobilized, including Gentil Kakule Kombi, ex-combatant since 2015. He has become an active community agent and leads a soccer team named ‘’Lubero Sport’’. He is also involved in activities for the consolidation of peace as MONUSCO partner.

Josiah Obat, chief of MONUSCO Beni-Lubero office, expressed confidence in the local civil society to preserve the gains of the past two decades. ‘’We are leaving behind a well-equipped civil society and hope they will continue to use the same tools to serve the cause of lasting peace here’’, he declared, reassuring the population, even though MONUSCO is leaving Lubero, the United Nations system remains committed, with its agencies and programs alongside the population.

He further said : ‘’The Mission will remain in Beni and, from this area, we will continue to collaborate with the partners we will leave here. Furthermore, the UN agencies will continue to work with the population in Lubero.’’

In 21 years, MONUSCO meaningfully contributed to the stabilization of the region; protecting civilians against threats from armed groups and supporting various projects in favor of peace. Despite the challenges and misunderstanding fueled by disinformation, this time is marked by important achievements in favor of women, civilians, local partners as well as steady efforts to consolidate peace in the region.