Peacekeepers' Day: MONUSCO Reaffirms its Commitment to Restore Peace in DRC
“Today, we reaffirm our commitment to the DRC. Our troops are the visible face of the United Nations, they are the ones who plan and generate the activities for the protection of the most vulnerable Congolese citizens”.
UN Force Commander in DRC, Lieutenant General Otavio MIRANDA FILHO said during the celebration of the Peacekeepers’ Day in Goma, North Kivu on Monday 29 May.
The ceremony was marked by a joint parade bringing together the Congolese National Police (PNC), the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and MONUSCO blue helmets.
In his speech for the occasion, MONUSCO Force Commander recalled the importance of working in synergy with all government and civil society partners to achieve a lasting and sustainable peace in the DRC.
It is precisely under the sign of partnership that the Peacekeepers’ Day was celebrated in Kinshasa.
After a wreaths-laying ceremony at the commemorative plaque erected in memory of some 400 Blue Helmets who lost their lives in the service of peace in the DRC, the Mission brought together nearly 300 activists in a conference-debate under the theme: "Peace begins with me".
The Force’s partners including the PNC and the FARDC also joined this meeting. They explained to the audience how they collaborate with the peacekeepers in areas plagued by insecurity as well as MONUSCO’s contribution to the pacification efforts in eastern DRC.
When addressing the audience, Brigadier General Jean-Daniel Batabombi Apanza, the deputy commander in charge of communication and information unit of the Armed Forces of the DRC, recalled “MONUSCO is a privileged partner of the FARDC”; “It is a reliable and trustworthy partner,” further said this senior officer of the Congolese army, in his introductory remark.
Jean-Daniel Batabombi Apanza also informed the audience that the support from the Force is for the benefit of the Republic.
"MONUSCO’s action is visible on the ground; it provides us with air and artillery fire support to neutralize the enemy, it provides us with information about the positions of armed groups by means of images from their drones", he explained.
Further describing the Mission's actions, he referred to the medical support provided by MONUSCO to the FARDC. “MONUSCO treats our wounded troops, and evacuate them to appropriate centers, which is very important”, he underscored.
Reacting to the words of some participants who maintained that “MONUSCO does nothing for peace to be restored in the DRC”, Brigadier General Batabombi Apanza replied “I disagree. There are actions that are visible and others that are not, we cannot publicize everything” he insisted.
MONUSCO Force’s representative in this meeting, Major Patrick Sabad explained the progress made in regard to the M23 issue, applauding the ceasefire currently achieved with this armed group. “MONUSCO, FARDC and the government have done substantive work to achieve this result,” he said. He also stressed the importance of the Joint Coordination Center established in Goma. "In this center, FARDC and the Force do in-depth work that produces effective results," he explained.
More than 20 blue helmets killed in Ituri
In Bunia, Ituri province, the head of office, Karna Soro revealed that more than twenty peacekeepers lost their lives in Ituri, and the local populations are aware of their sacrifices. "More than 800,000 people are under the protection of the blue helmets in Ituri, and we are working together with the populations".
In Bukavu, South Kivu, activities marking the Peacekeepers’ Day were organized in Kavumu where the UN flag was hoisted in front of the portraits of a dozen fallen peacekeepers in this region. Here, like in Kinshasa, Bunia and Goma, a moment of silence was observed to honor the memories of the fallen peacekeepers.