MONUSCO in the DRC: key points to know

DRC: MONUSCO officially leaves South Kivu

The UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO, has officially left the province of South Kivu after 25 years of presence.

End of a 25-year military presence in the DRC. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has left the province of South Kivu.

The withdrawal, decided by the UN Security Council in December 2023, is the first step in a three-phase process to withdraw the 15,000 peacekeepers present in the country. The timetables for the withdrawals from the Ituri and North Kivu regions, however, remain undetermined.

A ceremony marking this departure took place on 25 June in Kavumu, a town located 32 kilometres from Bukavu, the provincial capital. The head of MONUSCO, Bintou Keita, the Congolese Prime Minister, Judith Suminwa Tuluka, and the governor of South Kivu, Jean-Jacques Purusi, were present. On this occasion, MONUSCO donated equipment worth 10 million dollars to the local authorities and transferred a helipad and a base in Rutemba to the Congolese armed forces (FARDC).

Created on 30 November 1999 by a Security Council resolution, MONUSCO succeeded MONUC. This mission was established after the Lusaka ceasefire agreement in July 1999, intended to end the Second Congo War. The DRC was then supported by Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebel groups supported by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.

With an annual budget of just over $1 billion, MONUSCO is the UN’s oldest and most expensive mission. However, it has gradually discredited itself in the eyes of Kinshasa and the Congolese population due to its insufficient results on the ground and its inability to protect civilians. Violent protests demanding the departure of the peacekeepers, accused of passivity in the face of armed groups, have broken out in recent years, leading to civilian and military casualties as well as looting.

MONUSCO also faced mobilizations in November 2019 and April 2021, caused by the massacres perpetrated by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), rebels established in eastern DRC since the 1990s. MONUSCO’s departure from South Kivu comes as North Kivu is in the grip of an offensive by the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels, supported by the Rwandan army, according to the DRC.