2 December 2013

Congo-Kinshasa: UN Peacekeeping Chief in Eastern DR Congo to Inaugurate New Protection Technology, Sees Progress

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
A Predator drone of the U.S. Air Force base. The drone launched by the UN will not be armed.

On a visit to the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today, the head of United Nations peacekeeping operations said that the situation in the region, where civilians have suffered through recurrent insurgencies, showed evidence of improvement, and gave hope for further progress.

"This is above all an occasion to take measure of all the progress that has been accomplished on the ground in these past months," Hervé Ladsous, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations told correspondents in the city of Goma.

Mr. Ladsous is visiting the city to support the UN stabilization mission known as MONUSCO, through consultations with a range of actors and by helping to inaugurate the use of unarmed drones to bolster the Mission's ability to protect civilians.

"I believe that the situation we see now is very different from the dreadful drama that arose a year ago," Mr. Ladsous said.

The eastern DRC has been wracked for many years by fighting between the Government and various armed groups, the latest being the March 23rd Movement, or M23, composed of soldiers who mutinied from the DRC national army (FARDC).

The past year's fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people, exacerbating an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region which includes 2.6 million internally displaced persons and 6.4 million in need of food and emergency aid.

Today Mr. Ladsous met with senior Government officials to discuss the UN Mission's support in key areas, emphasizing the importance of political dialogue for regional stability, according to a UN spokesperson.

Tomorrow, he plans to preside over the launch of unarmed drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from Goma, which the Mission calls an important new tool to assist it in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians in the vast country.

"Such high-technology systems allow a better knowledge of what is happening on the ground, which allows a force to better do its job," he said on his arrival in the city.

After tomorrow's launch, Mr. Ladsous will hold a press conference with Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MONUSCO.

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