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UN peacekeepers launch pull out from eastern DR Congo

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The United Nations is expected to kick off the withdrawal of MONUSCO peacekeeping forces from the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday.  The first step in the process is the handing over of a UN base to national police.

The DR Congo demanded the withdrawal despite UN concerns about rampant violence in the east of the country.

Kinshasa considers the UN force to be ineffective in protecting civilians from the armed groups and militias that have plagued the east of the vast country for three decades.

The UN Security Council voted in December to accede to Kinshasa’s demand for a gradual pullout. MONUSCO first arrived in the DR Congo in 1999.

The UN force currently fields around 13,500 soldiers and 2,000 police across the three eastern provinces of Ituri, South Kivu, and North Kivu.

The pullout will take place in three phases with completion depending on regular assessments.

Phase one will see the departure of military peacekeepers from South Kivu by the end of April and civilian staff by June 30.

Before May, the UN force is to leave its 14 bases in the province and hand them over to DRC security forces.

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