Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, deployed under the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) for peace keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), yesterday took over key strategic positions of Kiwanja (Rutshuru territory), which was previously occupied by the March 23 (M23) Movement in Northern Kivu – DRC Congo, as they prepare to leave Mabenga.
The sequential deployment of the Uganda Contingent troops and the withdraw of the M23 is in compliance with the decision and consideration of 20th extra ordinary summit of the East African Community heads of state, held in Bujumbura-Burundi, on 4th February 2023 and the East African Chief of Defence Forces meeting of 9th of Feb 2023 respectively.
The summit directed for the serial withdraw and deployment of the East African Community Regional Force and the immediate posturing of the troops in areas vacated by the M23. Col. Michael Walakal Hyeroba, the Contingent Commander for the Uganda Force said that; “the compliance of the decisions made from the summit by the M23 is a very important factor in the reinstatement of peace and stability in North Kivu.”
He added that the occupation of the Uganda Peoples Defence Force in North Kivu yielded confidence in the civilians who had initially fled after being told of an imminent war between the UPDF and the M23. He called them to come back to their homes and continue with their normal life as the East African Community Regional Force is a neutral force meant to secure a peaceful and a stable environment for feature stability and a creation of a condition for normalcy.
Uyezu Gloria, a prominent business woman from the small town of Kiwanja-Rutshu in Northern Province, welcomed the deployment of the Uganda contingent troops in the general areas of Kiwanja as she lamented that the area is moderately peaceful but with the deployment of UPDF, the entire civil community is rest assured of security and normalcy.
All positions occupied by the Uganda Peoples Defence force in Bunagana-DRC have been secured and the situation is registered calm with no violence as the civil populace is already enjoying the dividends of peace brought by the Uganda contingent.
The Fruits: St. Kitumaine Catholic Church Re-Opens
And the normalcy which has been generally restored in Bunagana by the UPDF, has prompted the re-opening of Saint Kitumaine Belgian Catholic Church after one year of closure. This was on the heels of the war that had erupted between the Democratic Republic of Congo government Forces (FARDC) and the M23 Forces.
The occupation of the Uganda Contingent of the East African Regional Force in Bunagana general area re- established the church for the community. Reverend Father Jean Claud, the church Priest presided over the re-opening of the church. He welcomed its assemblage back to the Chapel as part of activities to mark the Easter Sunday celebrations where more than two hundred followers attended. Said the prelate; “Church services were stopped after the outbreak of the war on 14th of March 2022, to date when the UPDF occupied Tshengerero Village for peace keeping mission in Bunagana-DRC.”
Father Claud thanked the Uganda Peoples Defence Force for being Godly and for seeing the need for church activities not only to the community of Bunagana but for the entire human race. Col Michael Walakal Hyeroba, the Uganda Contingent Commander for East Africa Regional Force, assured them of security as he stressed to the congregation the role of the church as an embodiment of peace, unity and reconciliation.
Col Walakal later issued some assorted food items to the Church on behalf of the contingent. Saint Kitumaine Catholic Church is the only Catholic Church in Bunagana which was built in 1963 by the Belgian Catholics, and its located nine kilometers North West of Bunagana boarder post.
As ReportedBy Capt. Kato Ahmad Hassan
PIO – Uganda Contingent
- Joan Atuhwera is a Business Administration Graduate, a Human Rights activist and writer with over five years’ experience in pursuing justice for others via her keyboard. She can also be reached via email: [email protected] or WhatsApp +256774334595
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