Jean Pierre Lacroix In Ituri : "I Have Come Here To Bring My Support To The Civilian Populations And The Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC)"
On a visit to Bunia in Ituri province, the UN Under-Secretary General for peace operations Jean Pierre Lacroix made this statement in his meeting with the politico-administrative and military authorities of the province
The Ituri Governor gave an update on the overall security situation in the province, marked in particular by attacks by armed groups against both civilian populations and the FARDC
“The excellent joint work accomplished by the Ituri provincial authorities in all the civilian, military and police components, and by our MONUSCO colleagues in all their civilian, military and police components are producing concrete results: thousands of people are protected”.
On a visit to Bunia in Ituri province, the UN Under-Secretary General for peace operations Jean Pierre Lacroix made this statement in his meeting with the politico-administrative and military authorities of the province.
Mr. Lacroix said in most unequivocal terms regarding the collaboration between MONUSCO and its partner: “there is here a good model of cooperation and collaboration between Congolese authorities in Ituri to build upon during the next stages, in particular the programming of future activities within the framework of the integrated provincial team in the making.”
On the second day of his five-day trip to the DRC, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations for Peace Operations and his delegation held on Sunday morning, June 4, a working session with the Military Governor of the Ituri Province, Lieutenant General Luboya Nkashama Johnny. This meeting was extended to members of the provincial security council.
The Ituri Governor gave an update on the overall security situation in the province, marked in particular by attacks by armed groups against both civilian populations and the FARDC.
Lieutenant General Luboya Nkashama presented the internal and regional challenges as well as the root causes of this crisis, while developing the military and non-military approach taken by the Congolese authorities to address this situation.
Continuing his reflection, the Congolese officer alluded to the active armed groups that abound in the province. In particular the armed group Zaire which he described as an ally of the M23. “There are also other armed groups like Codeco, FPIC, FRPI and ADF.”
Referring to the operational mechanism put in place to overcome this asymmetrical warfare, the Lieutenant-General highlighted the offensive and defensive operations that were carried out in the Ituri province in close collaboration with MONUSCO Force.
It is in this context that he recalled the logistical support provided by MONUSCO to the FARDC through the medical evacuation of the wounded soldiers, the training of the 619 troops of a battalion in the locality of Rwanpara. These troops were deployed in Boga and Tchabi, he said.
Before concluding his presentation, the Military Governor announced the project for setting up an integrated provincial team responsible for leading the process on the transition and responsible withdrawal of MONUSCO.
In this vein, it is worth noting that there is also another project in the field of transitional justice, which consists in setting up a provincial truth, reconciliation and reparation commission which will engage in finding lasting solutions through the synergy humanitarian emergency, stabilization, and development.
Speaking in turn, Jean Pierre Lacroix recalled the purpose of his visit to Ituri : "I have come here to bring my support to the civilian populations and the FARDC". This mission is also part of the extension of regular exchanges with the Congolese authorities on MONUSCO’s mandate which will expire at the end of this year but also to make an assessment of the transition process which will pave the way for a responsible withdrawal of MONUSCO.
The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations further said there is here a good model of collaboration in Ituri to build upon in the next steps.
General Birane Diop, Military Advisor to the UN Under-Secretary-General for peace operations, underscored the major role FARDC are called upon to play in this extremely complex crisis for a definitive return to peace in the DRC.
“The population needs to be reassured by those who are supposed to protect them. To gain the confidence of the population, there must be cohesion,” he highlighted.
Lacroix at the Drodro IDP camp
Immediately after this meeting, Jean Pierre Lacroix and his delegation travelled to Drodro to visit an IDPs camp located about sixty km north of the town of Bunia. This camp is part of the Bahema chiefdom which falls under the territory of Djugu.
In this territory, the Force provides physical protection to approximately 101,214 displaced persons in the areas of responsibility of four temporary operating bases and one permanent combat deployment. Displaced populations in Djugu territory are under constant threat, which makes the physical protection offered by MONUSCO crucial.
The deterrent effect of the Blue Helmets’ presence in this area allows displaced populations to move from one place to another and go about their rural, commercial, cultural, and church activities, etc.
Taking advantage of the senior UN official presence, the displaced populations read out and handed him two memoranda.
The first which was presented by the displaced children expressed their frustration at no longer attending school due to insecurity. They asked him to plead with the DRC government so that a solution be found as soon as the next school year starts to allow them to return to school.
The second memorandum from displaced women contained moving testimonies to numerous cases of rape and other abuses of which they are victims when they go to the fields. “We are raped and killed by armed militiamen,” they bitterly recalled.
The representative of these vulnerable women called on the UN to increase the number of blue helmets to continue to guarantee their safety. “The most important thing for us is to return to our respective communities in peace and security.”
In another memorandum, Richard Likana, leader of the displaced persons in Drodro pleaded with Mr. Lacroix to intensify jointly with the government, efforts to restore peace and create a protective environment. Richard Likana, like all the displaced persons in Drodro, remains convinced that this is the only way to allow them to return home and resume their normal life.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Mission de l'Organisation des Nations unies en République démocratique du Congo (MONUSCO).