Uganda to deploy 1,000 troops to eastern DR Congo this month
Friday March 24 2023
Uganda will deploy 1,000 soldiers to conflict-torn eastern Democratic Republic of Congo this month, as part of a regional military force, a Ugandan army officer announced on Thursday.
M23 rebels have seized swathes of territory in the DRC's North Kivu province since re-emerging from dormancy in late 2021, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.
In response, the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) began to deploy a military force to eastern Congo in November in a bid to stabilise the volatile region.
Ugandan Colonel Mike Walaka Hyeroba said on Thursday that about 1,000 Ugandan troops would deploy in eastern DRC by the end of the month, as part of the EAC force.
Deploy to North Kivu
The troops are due to deploy to several areas of North Kivu currently occupied by the M23, he said, in a video recording shared with journalists by the provincial government.
Kenyan soldiers under EAC are already deployed in some areas of North Kivu, although locals increasingly view their presence with suspicion as the M23 has continued fighting.
Burundian forces are also deploying to territory west of North Kivu's capital Goma, and South Sudan announced that it would dispatch 750 troops to the region in late December.
The Tutsi-led M23 took up arms again in late 2021 arguing that the Congolese government had ignored a pledge to integrate the group into the army.
The rebels have since captured chunks of North Kivu and their continued advance threatens to cut off all roads to Goma, a trade hub of over one million people that lies on the Rwandan border.
The DRC accuses its smaller neighbour Rwanda of backing the M23.
Independent UN experts, the United States and several other Western nations have arrived at the same conclusion, although Rwanda denies the charge.
Ugandan troops are already present in eastern DRC as part of a joint mission with the Congolese army to fight the Allied Democratic Forces, another militant group ravaging the region.