Calm returns to eastern DRC during Christmas as Kenyan troops intensify patrols

An escort of Kenyan and Congolese military personnel stands guard at the airport in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, on November 15, 2022.

Thousands of residents of Eringeti in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo enjoyed a relatively calm festive season thanks to the heightened patrols of Kenyan and other troops in the region.

The Kenyan contingent is part of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO).

The calm festive season was a big relief to the troubled region that has for nearly 30 years been embroiled in conflict that has claimed almost millions of lives.

“Kenyan troops intensified patrols in the general area of Eringeti, eastern DRC during the festive season and worked in close coordination with the Congolese Force, (FARDC) and the South Africa National Defence Forces (SANDF) so as to deny militia groups freedom of movement,” said Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in its latest update on the status of Kenyan troops on its verified social media handles.

“The troops also interacted with locals in the area who appreciated the presence of Kenyan troops in the area and pledged their continued support in the restoration of peace.”

KDF said Eringeti had been experiencing frequent attacks by suspected Allied Defence Forces (ADF) rebels and other local militia. However, the heightened patrols led to calm in the region.

Apart from the DRC, Nairobi is keen to see lasting peace prevail in the region, including in Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan.

Troops from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan are intervening in the conflict in the mineral-rich eastern DRC to end the fighting between the armed rebels and the forces of the government of beleaguered President Felix Tshisekedi. They aim to restore peace and disarm the combatants, including the M23 rebels who have taken up critical positions in the mineral-rich North Kivu province.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta is the leading facilitator of the East African Community (EAC)-led Nairobi Peace Process, in a bid to restore peace in Ethiopia and DR Congo.

At the same time, Kenya is keen on peace and political stability in the region as it stands to boost its ailing economy.

Recently, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs, Dr Alfred Mutua, said in Nairobi that “the success of the DRC, a country blessed with wood, the potential for hydro-power and rich land and minerals, would be a success for the region.”

President William Ruto is also on record saying Kenya is committed to promoting peace in the volatile region.

“As neighbours with varied linkages, the destiny of DRC is intertwined with ours. We all have a stake in the stable Democratic Republic of Congo and its security is an obligation that we commit our best efforts to achieve,” said Dr Ruto while dispatching an initial contingent of 900 soldiers last month.

The main mandate of the KDF and other forces from the East African Community states is to promote peace. Leaders of the seven-nation EAC decided to create a regional military force in June to quell the violence in the DRC and hence restore peace.

Over 120 armed groups are active across eastern Congo, many of which are a legacy of regional wars that flared at the turn of the century.