The East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) has Friday achieved a full deployment status following the arrival of the last batch of South Sudanese soldiers in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Troops from the South Sudan Peoples Defence Forces began arriving in Goma on Sunday, April 2 and were subsequently deployed to the Rumangabo Forward Operating Base.
In a statement, EACRF said the arrival marks the fulfilment of the re-posturing of troops as approved by the heads of state mini-summit held in Addis Ababa on February 17, 2023 upon the recommendations of the East Africa Community Chiefs of Defence Forces/Chiefs of Defence Staff.
Their arrival also marks a significant milestone in the last phase of deployment in the multinational sector of Rutshuru and Masisi territories in the eastern DRC.
The South Sudan soldiers were received by the Kenyan Contingent Commander Col Daniel Rotich at the Kencon Sector headquarters where they were briefed before their deployment to Rumangabo Forward Operating Base where the two contingents are to be collocated.
EACRF, in a statement, said the attainment of full deployment will enhance the sequenced and orderly withdrawal of M23 to the designated cantonment areas, Protection of Civilians and opening up of the Bunagana-Rutshuru-Rumangabo-Goma and Kitchanga-Sake-Goma Main Supply Routes.
It will further support the disarmament, demobilisation, community recovery and stabilisation programme (P-DDRCS) of all armed groups in eastern DRC in line with the Mandate of the regional force.
Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan have contributed a battalion each to the force while Uganda has contributed two battalions.
Meanwhile, normalcy has been restored along the Goma-Kibumba-Rumangabo-Rutshuru main supply route following its opening and restoration of security.
Previously displaced residents of Nyiragongo and Rutshuru territories are back to their homes and have agreed to end hostilities and ethnic animosity amongst themselves.
Kenyan soldiers deployed in the joint operation area are aiding the free flow of people and goods and aiding humanitarian assistance including medical assistance to the local population in support of the political process geared at finding a lasting solution to the conflict in eastern DRC.
“In the spirit of togetherness, the locals have taken up the initiative of infrastructure development by improving road sections that are hazardous to motorists transporting people and goods leading to accidents along the RN2 main supply route, with injured victims often assisted by Kenyan contingent medical team deployed in the area,” the regional force said in a statement.