The East African Regional Force (EACRF) say they have lunched more patrols this week to protect civilians along the Goma-Kibumba-Rutshuru-Kiwanja-Bunagana and Goma-Sake-Kilolorwe-Kitchanga supply routes in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled eastern region.
These routes have also been used by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in their gradual return to their homes following a ceasefire between the rebel group M23 and FARDC, the Congolese army.
But there has been sporadic violence in the recent days with both sides in the war blaming the other.
This week, a meeting chaired by EACRF Commander Maj-Gen Alphaxard Kiugu and the four troop commanders of the contingents deployed under EACRF was meant to assess the security situation and the progress of the implementation of the force’s mandate in the Joint Operation Area in North Kivu, as their area of jurisdiction is known.
"The situation remains complex with multidimensional issues that need to be handled at different levels," Major General Kiugu said.
The patrols will further enable free movement of people and goods medical support to locals and create conditions favourable for Humanitarian Agencies to offer aid to the affected population.
The situation however remains dicey as there exists sporadic clashes among various armed groups a situation that is worsened by lingering tensions between M23 and the local army, FARDC.
In their last statement, the M23 accused the local army FARDC of provoking them to war by sending agents to its territory but reiterated their commitment to the peace process and direct negotiations with the DRC government.
“The M23 will defend itself against any warmongering initiative of the DRC government and will continue to guarantee the protection of the population in the areas under its control,” M23 Political Spokesperson Lawrence Kanyuka said.
This is as the East African Community’s mediators seek to re-start a fresh round of dialogue for peace with both the government and the groups as it seeks to have them lay down their arms and move to a designated cantonment site.