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UPDF briefs UN Military Staff Committee on Operation Shujaa progress in DRC

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Simon Kabayo
Simon Kabayohttps://eagle.co.ug
Reporter whose work is detailed

Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) has updated the UN Military Staff Committee on the progress and situation of ‘Operation Shujaa’ in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), saying that many gains have been attained.

The meeting was held yesterday at the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs (MODVA) headquarters in Mbuya, Kampala.

 The Commander of the Mountain Division Maj Gen Dick Olum, that is part of the UPDF fighting ADF in Eastern DRC, briefed the visiting team about the circumstances that birthed the joint military mission operation between Uganda and DRC to fight a common enemy, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the achievements so far made, the challenges the joint force faces and strategies to decisively degrade the ADF and pacify the inter-country border and the entire Great Lakes Region.

“The aim of this meeting is to acquaint you with the situation of the war against ADF, inform you of the progress so far made, the enemy situation and to discuss the challenges we still face as a joint force,” Maj Gen Olum explained.

 He recounted the achievements, which include: Successfully redeeming the population from slavery under the ADF spell, which ADF used to force the civilian population to grow crops that they (ADF) would later harvest for their survival and attack civilian settlements for food and medicine.

The joint military operation has also marked success in stopping the insurgents from making hit-and-run attacks, IED emplacement, and infiltration from the area, laying ambushes, attacking civilians and attacking motorists along public roads.

 He explained that the enemy situation was that the ADF was still carrying out deliberate activities to divert UPDF from pursuing the small groups they had clustered themselves into, ease the pressure from the joint operation, gain publicity as till formidable force, causing panic among civilians who are beginning to resettle in the villages they had previously run away from and discredit the efforts of the joint force.

He quoted the example of the ADF attack on Mpondwe Lhubiriha Secondary School on 16 June 2023, where 44 people were killed, 38 of them students and six civilians. 8 students were injured, and four others were abducted and later killed in the jungle.

 “The joint force has rescued, rehabilitated, and reintegrated a number of minor soldiers with their families and increased socio-economic activity owing to the peace and stability ushered in by the military operation. There has also been recorded an increase in the cross-border trade between the DRC and Uganda owing to the good roads and security. ADF has lost substantive weaponry, and a good number of the insurgents have been put out of action. Thousands of ammunition have been recovered, which has degraded their ability to fight,” Maj Gen Olum added.

Some of the challenges highlighted included bad weather, which majorly impedes air operations, collaborators facilitating ADF activities in Eastern DRC, a poor road network impairing swift movement, heavy rain that destroys and wipes away roads and social media propaganda alleging that the UPDF entered DR Congo to both fight the ADF and support the M23 rebel group fighting against the DRC government.

Maj Gen Olum expressed UPDFs’ Commitment to continue with the strategic military operation, reactivate operations in former ADF bases to stop the enemy from reverting to their former bases, intensify intelligence operations and decisively deal with the enemy in Sector 4, where remnant groups still regroup and reorganise. “The ADF is an international issue that stretches beyond the shared border between Uganda and the DRC. The entire Great Lakes Region ought to get interested in the annihilation of the Islamic extremist insurgent outfit before it spreads to all the other countries in the region,” Maj Gen Olum concluded.

The head of the UN Military Staff Committee, Col Carl Harris, expressed his gratitude for the immense update UPDF had given his committee en route to Eastern Congo. He explained that now the committee had a clear picture of the situation in Operation Shujaa in Eastern DRC.

 He further expounded that Members of the UN Military Staff Committee have come to Entebbe on their way to DRC to visit the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and understand better the challenges that MONUSCO is facing in its current environment. “We have got a much better understanding of what Uganda and DRC forces are doing in Eastern DRC, the current operations they are undertaking and the fierce conditions in which they are fighting; the contribution they are making to establish more excellent stability and security in Eastern DRC,” he noted.

 According to Col Harris, there is no formal coordination between MONUSCO – (a UN peacekeeping force in DRC) and Uganda in this area because Uganda only deployed bilaterally with the DRC. It’s quite clear that they all have some common aims and will benefit from coordination and de-confliction to make sure they avoid casualties on both sides and fight towards the same aim which is a more secure and stable DRC.

Maj Gen Silver Moses Kayemba Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Deputy Chief of Personnel and Administration Brig Gen GK Kigozi, Mountain Division Intelligence Officer Lt Col George Amandi, Mountain Division Public Information Officer Maj Bilal Katamba, and Lt Emmanuel Ojok, the UPDF Liaison Officer to the UN, were present at the meeting.

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