The African Union asserts its presence in DR Congo
Goma, 14 May 2013 – A delegation of 15 ambassadors, members of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, arrived on official mission in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on 13 May 2013. The delegation came to enquire about the security situation and the imminent deployment of the new Intervention Brigade in North Kivu province.
The governor of the province, Julien Paluku Kahongya, thanked the delegation for their visit and their support, before briefing them on the security and humanitarian situation in this part of the DR Congo, which is still facing frequent attacks by the numerous armed groups present in the region, especially in Masisi, Walikale and Rutshuru territories in the North Kivu province. Referring to the M23 rebel group, the governor said the group "controls a small area of 1,400 sq. km in Nyirangongo territory, while the province has a total area of 59,000 sq. km." "The population under the control of the M23 is experiencing the most serious violations of human rights: targeted assassinations, forced labor, recruitment of children, rape of women and girls, racketeering. The M23 occupation has provoked massive population displacement, while the humanitarian situation in IDP camps is catastrophic," the governor told the delegation.
Responding to questions from the ambassadors about the role and effectiveness of the UN mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO), the governor recognized the importance of MONUSCO's work, without which, he said, the region would be in chaos. "This is known to everybody, without the presence of MONUSCO in the East of the DRC, the country would experience a catastrophe," he said. "However, the population does not make a difference between the role of a peacekeeping mission and that of peace enforcement," he added. For its part, the delegation said it was concerned by this widespread instability, and expressed its readiness to contribute, through some member States, to sending troops to be part of the Intervention Brigade, which will be tasked with monitoring the movements of armed groups along the borders between the DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.
The AU delegation left Goma at 17:00 (local time) after meeting with MONUSCO officials.