On Friday, the UN Security Council extended its peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo by one year, while initiating a plan for a gradual withdrawal from the country.
A French resolution on the mission, known as MONUSCO, was adopted by 14 of the 15 members of the Security Council, with Russia abstaining.
It will “extend the mandate of MONUSCO in the DRC until December 20, 2021”, providing a maximum deployment of 16,300 soldiers and police.
The text called on the UN Secretariat to “consider further reduction of MONUSCO’s military deployment and area of operation based on the positive development of the situation on the ground, especially in those regions where the threat posed by armed groups is no longer significant.”
The Security Council also approved a joint UN-DRC plan presented in October for a “progressive and gradual reduction of MONUSCO” with a view to handing over responsibility to Congolese forces.
That would mean “planned withdrawals from Kasai 2021 and gradually from Tanganyika 2022, as well as the gradual consolidation of MONUSCO’s footprints in the three provinces where active conflict remains.”
The three provinces are northern and southern Kivu, in the eastern part of the country, and Ituri in the northeast.
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The Security Council also asked the UN Secretary-General to present a plan before September 2021 for the gradual reduction of MONUSCO.
The Security Council resolution did not set a deadline for the withdrawal, but said it would take at least three years.
The UN mission has been present in the Democratic Republic of Congo for 20 years and has an annual budget of approximately $ 1 billion.
According to the UN, 25.6 million Congolese need humanitarian aid.