Harare — The Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi requested that his government move quickly to evacuate the United Nations peacekeeping mission to ensure it begins at the end of the year, he said at the U.N. General Assembly, Reuters reports.
The mission, known as the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), came after a U.N. operation in 2010 to help reduce unrest in the country's eastern region, where armed factions battle for control of territory and resources.
However, its presence has been under fire for what critics say is a failure to protect civilians from militia groups, resulting in deadly protests.
An army crackdown on violent anti-U.N. protests in the eastern city of Goma in August resulted in the deaths of over 40 people and the injury of several others. A second protest in July 2022 left more than 15 people dead, including three peacekeepers in the cities of Butembo and Goma.
"It is to be deplored that peacekeeping missions deployed for 25 years... have failed to cope with the rebellions and armed conflicts," Tshisekedi told the UN assembly in a speech.
Earlier in August 2023, the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said peacekeepers in DR Congo will begin departing the country in an "accelerated withdrawal," confirming the departure of one of the missions first deployed 25 years ago.
The Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will leave the country, ending a contentious chapter but possibly leaving behind a hole that could exacerbate the violence there, Guterres said in a report presented to the UN Security Council.