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UN Peacekeepers’ Withdrawal Coincides with an Intense Battle for Eastern DRC

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo known as MONUSCO began its withdrawal Wednesday with the official handover to the Congolese authorities of the first of its bases in South Kivu, in the east of the country. The Monusco withdrawal called for by Kinshasa last year, comes after 25 years of presence. It was formalized in December by the United Nations Security Council, despite its concerns over the escalation of violence in eastern Congo. Congolese authorities had deemed the force’s operations as ineffective. Monusco which currently numbers some 15,000 peacekeepers, is still present in the region’s three most troubled provinces, South and North Kivu, as well as Ituri. The UN and Kinshasa adopted a three-phase “disengagement plan” has been adopted. They say they want to be “orderly, responsible and sustainable”.