MONUSCO and FARDC Joint Efforts to Counter M23 Advances in North Kivu

On February 10, 2024, the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) reiterated its commitment to support the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) in protecting the town of Sake in Masisi and the city of Goma from the advances of the M23 rebel group in North Kivu. Lieutenant-Colonel Kedagni Mensah, the spokesperson for the UN mission, confirmed this in an interview with Radio Okapi.

Lieutenant-Colonel Mensah reassured the populations of Sake, Goma, and the surrounding areas that Operation “Springbok,” a joint military effort with the FARDC, is proceeding as planned in the territories of Masisi and Nyiragongo. He emphasized that, in line with its mandate to protect civilians, MONUSCO has initiated several military operations, including “Springbok,” aimed at defending Sake and Goma.

This operation, conducted in close collaboration with the FARDC, showcases MONUSCO’s ongoing partnership and support to the Congolese forces in their efforts to counter M23 attacks. Lieutenant-Colonel Mensah sought to reassure the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), especially those in North Kivu, of the continuous defense provided by “Springbok” from its forward positions.

The initiative was praised by numerous political figures and civil society members in North Kivu in November of the previous year. They acknowledged the operation’s valuable contribution to the efforts already made by the Congolese army and encouraged the local population to support “Springbok” while warning against misinformation spread by some unscrupulous political actors.

According to a post on MONUSCO’s X account, accompanied by a video of a peacekeeper firing a machine gun, “Operation Springbok,” jointly conducted by MONUSCO and the FARDC, is ongoing. In response to an M23 attack on the FARDC, UN Peacekeepers engaged in combat with M23 from their blocking positions around Sake, repelling the rebels. In addition to the troops already present, MONUSCO deployed an additional rapid reaction force to Sake on Wednesday. The peacekeepers are protecting the main roads leading to Goma and Sake to prevent the rebels from advancing towards the two cities.