UN troop deployment imminent in Goma

The first contingent of forces from the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) are scheduled to arrive in Goma, eastern DRC, on Thursday on their way to the (rebel-held) town of Kalemie, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Katanga Province, where they will act as a guard unit for the UN sector headquarters. The Uruguayan troops will be the first of a number of guard units designated to guard UN facilities, equipment and supplies, according to a press statement from MONUC on Tuesday. A second contingent of UN troops is expected in Goma on 1 April, and the guard units are eventually expected to number some 2,000 throughout the whole country. These, together with other specialist units, are intended to “enhance the ability of MONUC military observer teams to carry out MONUC’s primary task of monitoring and verifying the disengagement of the parties to the conflict”, the UN statement said.

Preparations were also continuing for building up the peacekeeping force in other areas of the country, according to MONUC. Last Friday, 23 March, the advance party for a planned 400-strong river unit arrived in the Congo to assess the situation and provide specialist advice to MONUC Force Commander General Mountaga Diallo. On Tuesday, 27 March, an advanced party arrived from Senegal to plan the arrival of 26 Senegalese troops, who are due to be deployed in guard units for the UN sector headquarters in the (government-held) town of Kananga, Kasai Occidentale Province, from early April. The planned sequence of UN deployment is to Kalemie, Kananga, Kisangani, Mbandaka, Goma and Kinshasa.