North Kivu: MONUSCO and FARDC Cement their Collaboration to Secure Goma and Sake
“Our troops deployed here from our bases because they are prepared to die if such is the price to pay for the sake of protecting the people of this country.”
It is with this firm and reassuring tone that MONUSCO Force Commander, Brigadier General Otávio Rodrigues de Miranda Filho, addressed the national and international medias during a joint MONUSCO-FARDC visit in one of MONUSCO positions as part of Springbok codenamed Operation, to the locality of Kimoka in Masisi territory, North Kivu, on Monday, November 6, 2023.
To cement partnership between the two Forces, the senior advisor to the military Governor in charge of operations, Brigadier General Dany Yangba, and other officers of the national armed forces also participated in this activity.
The Congolese officer, Brigadier General Dany Yangba, and the UN officer, Brigadier General Otávio Rodrigues de Miranda Filho, had a brief tête-à-tête behind closed doors. Nothing leaked from this interview, as journalists were not invited.
On Friday 3rd November 2023, the UN Mission and its partner the FARDC decided to launch a defensive operation to protect the locality of Sake located around thirty kilometers from Goma, but also to protect Goma, under continued threat from armed groups.
It is in this context that the military authorities in North Kivu organized this second field trip to visit the different positions where MONUSCO blue helmets are stationed in order to protect civilians in accordance with its mandate.
Building on this partnership, the same Friday, November 3, the military Governor, Major General Peter Cirimwami, personally visited another position held by peacekeepers in Goma perimeter.
So, during the visit to the locality of Kimoka in Masisi territory on the morning of Monday 6 November, MONUSCO Force Commander declared in unambiguous term to the dozen representatives of the media that the blue helmets are braced for any eventuality in the event of an attack by the enemy: “As long as the FARDC are in the combat logic and they need our help, we will be there. I can show you proof that I'm serious about my commitment. If an illegal armed group tries to attack us, we will confront them.”
Why only Sake and Goma?
The Force military spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Kevin Byabato, was also part of this visit. Reacting to the question of why only secure Sake and Goma while other areas in the province are under threat from the enemy, Tanzanian officer responded: “There is a serious threat here. MONUSCO and FARDC are prepared to protect any area.”
This defensive position is installed roughly thirty kilometers from Goma, in Masisi territory. It aims to protect Sake against possible attacks by rebels who have recently reoccupied several positions in this part of Masisi territory.
MONUSCO Force commander said at least four contingents of blue helmets are currently deployed in these defensive positions, with a significant military arsenal, to carry out this operation in support of the FARDC.
Force reassures the population
In recent days, the threat to Sake has become increasingly heightened. Local armed groups - notably the M23 rebels - have reoccupied several other localities, including Burungu and Rujebeshi, between Kilolirwe and Kitshanga.
The UN mission wishes to reassure the population: “Our mandate is to protect the populations of the DRC. Any illegal force that tries to challenge us, we will confront them. It is necessary to reassure everyone: MONUSCO has a mandate to support the FARDC. Wherever the FARDC expresses the need for our support, we will be there to support the FARDC without hesitation,” declared Brigadier General Otávio Rodrigues de Miranda Filho.
As a reminder, the joint Springbok FARDC-MONUSCO operation against the M23 rebellion announced on November 3, 2023, in a press briefing in Goma is currently in its materialization phase. “If the threat persists, the operation could move from defensive to offensive,” the Brazilian general declared to the press.