Malawian peacekeepers were deployed in December, 2021 to the north-east of Beni town in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and they have managed to bring normalcy for inhabitants of the village of Bwerere.
The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) said on its website that elements of the Malawian battalion have been organising motorised, pedestrian, day and night patrols to ensure the protection of civilians alongside the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) and the Congolese National Police (PNC).
These regular patrols by the Malawian battalion have had a significant deterrent effect in the area on the activity of armed groups.
Civilians who fled the exactions by armed groups to seek safety from danger are returning and gradually resuming their rural and economic activities.
“The situation was disastrous when we deployed here. Most of the localities were in a ghostly state because the inhabitants had abandoned them. We had to go to work immediately to make sure that the people were convinced that they were protected,” said the officer commanding “A” Company of Malawian peacekeepers, Major Flao Mwale.
In an effort to consolidate the newfound peace, the Malawian peacekeepers regularly bring together different segments of the population around the same table, especially during weekly meetings called “Urafiki”, in order to raise their awareness about the need for community involvement in establishing a permanent climate of peace in their environment.
These meetings are held jointly with the FARDC, the PNC, civil society organisations, traditional leaders and local government authorities. They also serve as information-sharing platforms for all stakeholders, leading to a common awareness of the situation and proactive and preventive action by the MONUSCO Force.
“As Malbatt, we understand that the problem here is complicated and requires more than military solutions. We therefore take all stakeholders into consideration to ensure that all perspectives are taken into account,” explains Flao Mwale.
The Malawi Battalion is also working to strengthen local protection committees and local security forces to be more active in achieving sustainable peace to ensure that the results achieved are sustained beyond the peacekeepers’ departure.
“We believe that peace is possible and we are looking to adapt our protection mechanism. We don’t want to just deal with atrocities forever, we intend to ensure that there is a sustainable peace in our area of responsibility,” said Lieutenant Colonel Philip Chitekwe, commander of the Malawian battalion.
The Malawian battalion is part of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) consisting of three battalions from South Africa (RSABATT), Tanzania (TANZBATT) and Malawi (MALBATT). The FIB has been deployed in the DRC’s North Kivu province since 2013, as part of MONUSCO’s mandate, to ensure the protection of civilians (POC) and the neutralization of armed groups.