After 17 months in operation instead of the 12 initially planned, a first portion of the troops of the Senegalese Formed Police Unit (SENFPU 13) left Goma, North Kivu and Bunia, Ituri, to return to their home country. In the meantime, 135 other elements of the Senegalese gendarmerie, including 38 women, making up the SENFPU 14, have arrived in the DRC, to take over from their colleagues at the end of their mission, a second portion of which will leave the Congolese soil on October 1.
In the face of the exceptional circumstances related to COVID-19 and the need to maintain everyone's safety and health, UN has called on some troops-contributing countries to allow their troops to stay longer.
"In all circumstances, we must be able to continue our activities in support of the host country and even more during this particularly difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic", explained Lieutenant-Colonel Ibrahima Ngom, SENFPU 13 commander in Goma, after 17 months and 14 days spent in North Kivu.
Currently on his third mission with the United Nations after serving in UNOCI in 2007-2008 and MINUSMA in 2013-2014, Lieutenant-Colonel Ibrahima Ngom considers these field missions "very exciting".
"We forge strong links through the collaboration we maintain with the police and military authorities of the host countries we serve, particularly within the framework of the joint patrols we regularly carry out in the field," he said
And he went on to say: "During these 17 months on the ground, we have spared no effort to deserve the confidence of the Senegalese state as expected during this mission in the DRC".
Pending their entry into service, the two rotations of the Senegalese Formed Police Unit, SENFPU 14, did abide by the forteen-day isolation requirement set by the DRC Government, in the 29 tents made available to them at the Sake isolation camp, located about thirty kilometers west of Goma.
In this new unit, women, too often under-represented in peacekeeping missions, yet bring an additional dimension at all levels. Such is the case for the two doctors, namely Dr Ndeye Faty Massata Diop, who will be based in Goma, and Dr Ndeye Yacine Fall, who will be based in Bunia.
Extended troop rotations pose a new challenge for UN peacekeeping missions. As a result, MONUSCO, like other missions, had to adapt swiftly to the new health requirements in order to continue to fulfill its civilian protection tasks in the scenes of operations.