In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the National forces (FARDC), with support from the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO and its intervention brigade, have averted threat to the city of Goma, in the eastern part of the country, nearby refugee camps and U.N. missions by pushing the M23 rebel group back towards the north, in fighting which took place late Aug. This was informed by Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations at a press conference at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. He said the progress being made in the DRC is due to be discussed at a special event on the sidelines of the high-level opening of the General Assembly on 23 September in New York.
In DRC, "The M23 has suffered casualties and that is the reason why they pushed back to, presumably, lick their wounds," Ladsous said. He said, MONUSCO has strengthened its positions and is now better placed to defend Goma and its population. However, he stressed a political solution was required to tackle the underlying causes of the conflict in the country.
U.N. officials were in the region last week to attend the Kampala talks which paved the way for resumption of talks between the M23 and the Government.
Talks between the two sides were suspended in May, and the agreement to reopen them follows a recent upsurge in violence in the country. Congolese troops backed by the special United Nations force have successfully thwarted M23 rebel attempt to move into Goma.
The UN has stressed the urgency of moving forward with the implementation of the 11-nation Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework in the region, signed earlier this year, under UN auspices. Ladsous said, the UN, through MONUSCO, is now a full-fledged member of the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM), a technical body, comprising experts from both DRC and Rwanda and those of the UN and African Union (AU), to address DRC-Rwanda border issues.
"I think we will be able to get a much clearer picture of what is happening," the UN peacekeeping chief said in reference to accusations of shelling across the border.
He also noted that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would be used for observation purposes by the end of the year.
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