A security vacuum left by the FARDC following its withdrawal from several areas and the continued dynamics involved in the operations of (foreign) armed groups (AG), including the mutiny of some FARDC elements which formed the “M23” movement in April 2012, continue to threaten the civilian population and cause continued suffering and population displacement.
The United Nations System-Wide Protection of Civilians Strategy for the DRC is one of the five integrated mission strategies that address all three aspects of the humanitarian protection concept, including prevention and response, remedial action, and support for the establishment of a protective environment.
Civil Affairs supports the central PoC coordination mechanism, including:
- The Senior Management Group on Protection (SMG-P) decides on support to MONUSCO/FARDC joint operations, the conditionality policy and acts as the forum for integrated PoC planning,
- The Protection Working Group (PWG) provides technical advice, recommendations on PoC issues (sent by the field) and secretariat services to the SMG-P,
- The provincial Senior Management Group on Protection (SMG-PP) manages and operationalizes PoC at the field level.
Civil Affairs will continue to focus on:
- Updating the United Nations system-wide PoC strategy, promoting civil-military relations and training;
- Supporting the PWG at central level and the SMG-PP at the field level in updating MONUSCO’s national and provincial PoC plans and their implementation, including developing the package of mission specific PoC tools, Must-Should-Could (PoC) Matrix (MSC), Community Liaison Assistants (CLA), Joint Protection Teams (JPT), Community Alert Networks (CAN) and Joint Humanitarian Missions (JAM);
- Developing response capacity with local actors to mitigate threats, including building community resilience and early warning mechanisms on the basis of community protection plans.
Civil Affairs is a strategic partner of the Humanitarian Action Group (HAG) and the Provincial Inter-agency Committee at the field level.
The MSC Matrix is a joint planning exercise between MONUSCO and the humanitarian community. It ranks key areas that are perceived as especially vulnerable to protection threats as being “must protect”, “should protect” or “could protect”. It is up-dated by the Protection Cluster and submitted to the SMG-PP, which decides on strategic preventive protection measures, including the deployment of MOBs/COBs/TOBs.
Civil Affairs manages 202 CLAs, who are deployed at the COB/TOB level in 70+ locations in eastern Congo. CLAs facilitate communication between the Force and the local communities and authorities. CLAs are particularly effective in building confidence with local actors, including humanitarians, and in developing TOB PoC Plans (TPP) and Community PoC Plans (CPP). This year further efforts will be undertaken to reinforce effective collaboration/cohabitation between civilians and the military. CLAs will ensure the smooth transition and continuation of operations during the rotation of troops.
Joint Protection Teams missions are multi-sectoral teams, which could be composed of any combination of representatives of the Force, UNPOL and sections, representatives of UNCT and Humanitarians, and authorities (FARDC and PNC) and civil society. JPTs depend on TOR provided by the SMG-PP and are organized to collect information and to build relations between key actors and local communities to enhance preventive and responsive action and build resilience for PoC, inter alia, through the formulation of TOB PoC Plans and Community PoC Plans. The SMG-PP is responsible for formulating JPT objectives and following up on JPT recommendations.
MONUSCO initially distributed mobile phones. It is now providing SIM cards, with a nominal charge, to Focal Points in communities surrounding the MONUSCO military bases. Focal points are selected by community members and are generally drawn from local leadership. They are in regular contact with CLAs or troop commanders and raise the alert in case of imminent threat. A major CAN feature is the potential to extend the telephone network with HF communications. On this basis, CARITAS has linked 40 additional communities in South Kivu and Orientale Province.
“Do No Harm” safeguards have been put in place to avoid any negative impact on the Focal Point or the community. 25 CANs linking over two million people in 225 communities are operational and, conditions permitting, the programme will expand. A CAN Committee has been established to develop the programme and review alternative and appropriate technology. MONUSCO continues to look for partners to extend the project in priority areas.
Based on demand and taking into account the need for humanitarian space, Civil Affairs continues to support humanitarian access, including facilitation of security (escorts) in insecure areas for personnel and cargo. Civil Affairs also supports JAMs, which are multidisciplinary, inter-agency humanitarian needs assessments.
The DRC Peacebuilding and Reconstruction Data Project is directly linked to the STAREC M&E Unit and will harness innovative technology to collect high-quality information and identify changes in human security, protection, governance, and peacebuilding. The project will conduct quarterly polls and will be implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. CLAs will collect the data. Project objectives include inter alia:
- Providing quality information to develop the PoC programme;
- Providing quality information on stabilization and peace consolidation to improve programme development;
- Feeding information into early warning and early response systems;
- Stimulating community- based discussion.