KINSHASHA, DRC – The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) of the East African Community Regional Forces (EACRC) captured areas of Bunagana in eastern DRC on Sunday for a peacekeeping mission after M23 rebels fled the area.
“Today, April 2, 2023, the UPDF has deployed in the general areas of Bunagana where they have established a foothold while giving M23 time to vacate the general areas of Rutshuru, Kiwanja, and Mabenga as agreed,” said Capt Ahmad Hassan Kato, Spokesperson for the EACRF Uganda contingent.
“The UPDF thanks the leadership of M23 for being cooperative to the contingent and for ensuring our peacekeepers’ safe passage and occupation of Bunagana.” M23 is also expected to cooperate when the UPDF takes over the areas of Rushuru, Kiwanja, and Mabenga.
The UPDF crossed the Uganda-DRC border on Friday to deploy in Bunagana, Kiwanja, and Mabenga within Rutshuru, marking a critical milestone and the final phase of the EACRF’s deployment.
The army’s mission in DRC is to oversee M23’s sequential withdrawal, protect civilians, and open Bunagana-Goma areas. Following a meeting of the East African Community heads of state and a subsequent meeting of the region’s defence forces commanders in November last year, Kenya deployed over 900 troops to the eastern DRC.
The EACRC will be led by Maj. Gen. Jeff Nyaga of Kenya. The soldiers are supposed to supervise the withdrawal of the M23 rebel group, which has conquered territory in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo since resuming operations in late 2021.