Two Irish Defense Forces personnel have been withdrawn from the DRC over “security concerns”.
Two Irish officers, a man and a woman, have been successfully removed from the state in the past 24 hours with help from the Air Corps and input from unnamed “international partners”.
The Defense Forces have three armed officers who work as staff officers at the headquarters of the United Nations peacekeeping force MONUSCO in Goma, the capital of the northeastern province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Ireland has deployed unarmed personnel as part of the UN mission in Congo since 2001, while armed personnel were deployed to Goma in 2013.
As of yesterday afternoon, two armed officers were present at the mission in Goma, while another officer was on leave in Ireland and his planned return to Congo was suspended.
A Defense Forces spokesman said Defense Secretary Simon Coveney was briefed earlier this week on the volatile situation on the ground and he had been briefed on the threat it posed to Irish officers.
“Following the recent civil unrest in and around Goma (DRC), which left several people dead, including UN personnel, the minister received military advice, on the basis of which he concluded that the risk of such a small operation under is not acceptable in the current circumstances. While civil unrest appears to have subsided, the minister agreed to use this calmer period to prompt the withdrawal of officers from the theater of operations,” a Defense Forces spokesman said.
“Air Corps assets were used to transport personnel and equipment from Goma (DRC) to Entebbe (Uganda), personnel will return home from Entebbe by commercial airlines and the Air Corps will transport equipment home.”
The evacuation was scheduled for Thursday but was delayed yesterday due to a delay in “obtaining diplomatic clearances for flights”.
The Defense Forces have confirmed that Secretary Coveney maintained “close personal contact” with the planning arrangements at all times “as the safety of personnel was his top priority”.
The Defense Forces spokesman added: “He [Minister Coveney] Recognizes the significant and collaborative work done by the Department of Defense and military officials over the past few weeks with support from the State Department. The UN had been informed of this personnel deduction. This retreat will allow for a period of reflection on our continued participation in the mission.
“The Minister wishes to express his gratitude to other troop-contributing countries in MONUSCO who have provided practical support to the two Irish officers.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/two-irish-army-officers-evacuated-from-dr-congo-due-security-concerns-41909581.html Two Irish army officers evacuated from DR Congo over ‘security concerns’