The United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo is keen to have the UN Security Council continue offering its support in order to continue its work in the country.
Leila Zerrougui, the head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), made the plea on Thursday as the Security Council ponders the longer-term future of the mission.
Zerrougui informed the 15-member Council that MONUSCO had also added the fight against COVID-19 to its to-do-list, as the DR Congo fights to stop the spread of the disease.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced an additional layer of complexity and concern to the existing issues that we face in the country,” she said, presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in the DR Congo.
MONUSCO’s current mandate expires on 20 December, having been extended by a year.
Zerrougui however informed the Security Council that there was still work to be done as many parts of the DR Congo were still dogged by conflict.
According to the UN, the situation in parts of Ituri province, which borders South Sudan and Uganda, has taken a grave turn for the worse in recent months, with element of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces reportedly carrying out incursions into the north of the province.
The agency says an armed group, the Allied Democratic Forces ADF), is regrouping even as other militia proliferate in South Kivu.
In extending MONUSCO’s mandate in December 2019, the Council took note of an assessment by an independent strategic review that an absolute minimum transition period of three years will be needed for the Mission’s drawdown and exit.
At the same time, the Council invited the Secretariat to consider further reductions in MONUSCO’s military deployment – currently capped at 14,000 troops – and its area of operations, while making the protection of civilians the mission’s strategic priority.