UN mission in DRC has temporarily withdrawn from eastern city of Butembo due to protests

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The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has pulled out of a large city in the east of the country following last month’s violent protest against its troops.

The locals have been demanding the withdrawal of the peacekeepers for their perceived failure to protect them from attacks by militia groups.

Hundreds of UN peacekeepers and civilian personnel have left the DRC’s eastern city of Butembo.

The troops have been redeployed to an area outside the city.

The Spokesperson of the UN peacekeeping mission Ndeye Khady says their departure is temporary. But she did not say when they will return.

The pullout comes a month after violent anti-UN protests broke out in the eastern city.

The locals accuse the UN force of failing to protect them from militia groups.

The recent seizure of a key town and several villages by the M23 rebels in North Kivu province has sparked widespread anger in the region.

Civil society groups say more than 1000 civilians have been killed by rebels since 2019.

Congolese and UN officials are set to hold discussions on reassessing the withdrawal plan of the 12,000-strong peacekeeping force.

Last year, the UN said it planned to withdraw its troops from the DRC by 2024.

But the DRC government has urged the mission to leave sooner after 36 people were killed in last month’s protests in the country’s east. -Reporting by SABC News in Kinshasa Chris Ocamringa