- The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congolese troops have decided to strengthen the joint military operation in the eastern DRC to root out illegally-armed groups.
UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said the recent visit by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Alan Doss to North and South Kivu province accompanied by the Congolese defense minister and other senior officials affirmed the UN’s commitment to end conflict in DRC.
“The two sides agreed to strengthen the planning and execution of their military and other joint tasks,” Mr Haq said.
The peacekeeping mission and Congolese troops have also discussed improvements in the protection for civilians in the area, as well as the disarmament and repatriation of the armed militia.
Eastern DRC has been plagued by violence since 1994, after notorious ethnic Hutu militia known as the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) fled prosecution in Rwanda after the genocide.
Mr Haq said MONUC has welcomed the 30-year sentences handed down last Friday by a Congolese military court to five militia fighters found guilty of a spree of rape and other sexual crimes. The five men were also sentenced to pay financial damages to their more than 135 female victims.
He added that the mission assisted with the investigations and monitored the trial to ensure it complies with international standards
Last week, the UN mission pledged its support to back Congolese forces to root out ethnic Hutu militias in eastern DRC allegedly committing serious atrocities against civilians and causing fear of renewed Rwandan engagement in eastern Congo.
The UN mission has helped the Congolese troops to plan an attack against the FDLR and supplied support units in the eastern province.
The operation, launched on 28 May, is targeted at assembly areas of the Rwandan FDLR in the Lubero Territory, north of Goma, where rebels have been operating since the end of the genocide in 1994.
An estimated 6,000 FDRL fighters are reportedly settled in eastern DRC forests. The Hutu militia is put in connection with groups co-responsible for the Rwandan 1994 genocide and their activities in the DRC earlier has caused Rwanda to take military action across the border.
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