Burundi troops take over liberated areas as M23 withdraws from parts of Eastern DRC

The Burundi National Defence Forces (BNDF) troops under the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) have successfully taken over Karuba, Mushaki, and Kirolirwe in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The EACRF is now preparing to deploy to Kitchanga, following ongoing reconnaissance operations in the area.

This milestone comes after the withdrawal of the M23 rebels from occupied areas on the Western Front to designated areas of Sabinyo, Bigega, Bugusa, Nyabikona, Mbuzi, Rutsiro, and Nkokwe.

In compliance with the decision of the East Africa Community Heads of State mini-summit held on February 17, 2023 in Addis Ababa, the M23 has withdrawn from Sake, Karuba, Mushaki, Neenero, Kirolirwe, Kibirizi, Mweso, and adjacent areas.

This phased withdrawal has been a key focus in restoring peace and stability in Eastern DRC.

A Joint Bureau comprising the Ad Hoc Verification Mechanism (AVM), EACRF, Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) and East Africa Community Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (EACMVM) has verified the M23 withdrawal and ceasefire observance within the theatre.

This marks a significant milestone towards the ultimate goal of restoring peace and stability in the region.

The EACRF troops’ deployment has facilitated the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their homes, as the population accepts the force’s close collaboration in ongoing peace and stability efforts.

The deployment has also provided humanitarian assistance to the vacated areas, and the opening up of the Main Supply Route from Sake to Kitchanga through Kirolirwe (RP1030) has enabled free movement of people and goods.

The sight of trucks, lorries, and motorcycles on the road is an indication of the region’s steady return to normalcy.

The re-posturing recommended by the East African Community Chiefs of Defence Forces/Chiefs of Staff meeting held on February 9, 2023, in Nairobi has resulted in the multinational sector of Masisi and Rutshuru territories.

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