Kenyan troops deployed to restive Beni in DRC

Kenya Defence forces soldiers

Lieutenant Colonel Abdi Galgalo (centre), commander of the Kenya Quick Reaction Force 01 Company, stands in attention with his unit after a flag presentation before being deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Kenyans troops have been deployed to the troubled Beni region, North Kivu province, where the Congolese government has struggled to restore calm over the years. 

They now join Tanzanian soldiers who have been in the region for three months. Later, they will be joined by South African and Nepalese troops. Together, they are expected to prop up forces from the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco) who have been repulsing several rebel groups including Uganda-based ADF (Alliance democratic forces) fighters, who are settled in DRC forests.

North Kivu province has been unstable since 1994. 

It is estimated that there are about a hundred rebel groups operating in the DRC. These fighters prey on defenseless civilians on a regular basis, and are responsible for several mass killings in Beni since 2014. 

Beni, which lies between the world-famous Virunga National Park and Rwenzori Mountains, has become synonymous with killing over the years, with mayhem and rebel attacks now routine.

A map showing Beni's location in DRC.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Kenyan troops will now brace for conflict-hardened enemies who sometimes hide behind the cover of civilians.

According to Sy Koumbo Ghali, Monusco's head of communications, Kenyan, Tanzanian, South African and Nepalese troops should constitute the intervention force brigade of the UN agency's peacekeeping force. 

"The mission of these troops is to strengthen the mobility capacities of the UN army in the protection of civilians. They intervene very quickly in the event of attacks and alerts. They have more mobility to respond to the demands of the population", she said.