North Kivu: MONUSCO announces the closure of the Lubero base
The MONUSCO peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has announced that it has started to consolidate its presence in hotspots in North Kivu and Ituri in line with the approach proposed by the SG in his special report dated 2 August. To this effect, the Mission intends to close its base in Lubero, North Kivu, by 31 December2023. Since the Mission established a presence in the territory in 2002, peacekeepers have helped to protect civilians and deter attacks by armed groups in very volatile security conditions.
The Mayor of the Lubero municipality publicly thanked MONUSCO for assisting national forces in the fight against armed groups and its support for peace and security in the region. To ensure a responsible drawdown of the camp located approximately 100 kms south of Beni, the Mission has established a new joint committee to work with the armed forces of the DRC (FARDC) and the Congolese national police (PNC).
21 years of collaboration
While regretting the "painful separation" between MONUSCO and the Congolese people, Colonel Alain Kiwewa, Administrator of the Lubero Territory, promised to identify, with the UN Mission delegation visiting Lubero this week, ways of maintaining the collaboration that has always existed between the Mission and the territorial authorities: "It's a collaboration that we value very highly," he stressed.
The Mission has been present in Lubero territory since 2002. At the time, its deployment was necessitated by the need to protect civilians against the presence of Laurent Nkunda's CNDP rebels and their attacks on the civilian population. Later, the CNDP was joined by FDLR rebels and other armed groups, causing a volatile security situation in the area. Lubero was the first military base for the "Grand Nord-Kivu" (Beni-Butembo-Lubero).
A useful presence
"MONUSCO's presence initially served as a deterrent to militiamen, who continued to attack civilians along national road number 4. However, with MONUSCO's daily patrols, these militiamen were often routed," recalls a Lubero resident, of a time in which movement was very limited.
The Mayor of Lubero Municipality, Mr Joseph Kavahwere Balukwicha, shared a similar sentiment, saying, "MONUSCO supported our army in the fight against the rebel groups who controlled the area at the time. The population was very happy with this support. The impact of MONUSCO's presence was palpable in this territory, as peace returned, and the country was even reunited, remember [ing] that Lubero was under the domination of the RCD/KML...". However, he continued that the persistence of insecurity caused by armed groups in the area, made the progress and safety brought by MONUSCO at the time difficult to remember.