Uganda sends 5,000 troops to DR Congo peace mission
Thursday March 30 2023
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Wednesday flagged off 5,000 soldiers for a peace mission in the troubled North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Commander of Land Forces, Lt Gen Kayanja Muhanga, flagged off the soldiers who will cross to DR Congo through the Bunagana border in Kisoro District.
“Unlike the Shujaa Operation on the other side of the DR Congo where we directly attack the enemy, the mission here is to witness a process of achieving peace in Rutshuru territory and the neighbouring areas in the North Kivu province in the DR Congo. We are deploying about 5,000 soldiers,” Lt Gen Muhanga said.
Peace in North Kivu
He added that they are not going to Congo as enemies of any group, but to implement the decisions of the East African heads of state on creating peace in North Kivu.
The chairperson of Kisoro District, Mr Abel Bizimana, said he was excited that the UPDF soldiers had finally been flagged off to witness a peace process in the troubled DR Congo.
He added that his district has already allocated about 620 acres at Kabaya public land for the UPDF so that it can plan the peacekeeping mission.
“We are optimistic that the construction and tarmacking of Bunagana-Goma road will be revived now that the UPDF have come in to pacify the area. We are also expecting the revival of cross-border business in the area,” Mr Bizimana said.
The Kisoro Resident District Commissioner Shafiq Ssekandi said an average of about 120 Congolese refugees cross into Kisoro every day.
“Although over 70,000 Congolese refugees crossed into Kisoro from March to December last year, about 4,800 have crossed into Kisoro since January to date. We are currently receiving an average of 120 Congolese refugees crossing into Uganda through the Bunagana border on a daily basis,” Mr Ssekandi said.
The commander of the UPDF contingent that was flagged off to DR Congo, Col Michael Walaka Hyeroba, reminded the soldiers about their responsibilities, especially observing discipline and the rules of engagement.
“We appeal for support from local residents in both countries so that our mission can be successful. Our forces are well trained and they are ready for the mission,” Col Hyeroba said.