Indian UN Troops Withdraw from Positions Around Sake, Escalating Tensions in Eastern DRC

The United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Monusco, has recently highlighted an increasingly volatile security situation in the eastern part of the country. Ongoing clashes persist, particularly with the advancement of the predominantly Tutsi-led M23 rebellion towards the northern outskirts of Sake, approximately twenty kilometers west of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

According to internal reports from Monusco reviewed by AFP, Indian UN troops deployed around Sake breached their chain of command’s orders by abandoning their positions last Thursday. This decision led to the seizure of several defensive positions by the M23 and the Rwandan army, further exacerbating tensions in the region.

The situation deteriorated further on Sunday morning when pro-government militias of the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC) opened fire on peacekeeping forces on the outskirts of Sake, using light weapons and RPG rockets. Additionally, a grenade explosion at a displaced persons’ camp between Goma and Sake resulted in the deaths of five individuals and multiple injuries, according to medical sources in Goma.

These events unfold against the backdrop of the M23 resuming hostilities after eight years of dormancy, late in 2021, with alleged support from the Rwandan government. This resurgence in fighting has led to the M23 gaining control over large swathes of territory in North Kivu, further heightening tensions in the region.

It is crucial to note that the presence and actions of the Rwandan army in the area have drawn criticism from various stakeholders, who accuse Rwandan President Paul Kagame of actively supporting the M23. This Rwandan involvement in the conflict adds to the escalating instability in eastern DRC.