Kenyan troops arrived in the eastern DRC city of Goma on Saturday (Nov 12).
Local dignitaries and Congolese forces in the area greeted them.
Their arrival coincides with the M23 rebel group’s advance across the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu province, capturing large swaths of territory and inflaming tensions in the Great Lakes region.
“The instructions given by heads of state, as well as the concepts, are very clear. Kenyan friends have arrived on a purely offensive mission “Colonel Guillaume Ndjile, spokesman for the Congolese army in North Kivu, said.
Kenyan soldiers are being deployed after Kenya’s parliament approved the deployment of over 900 troops to the DRC.
East African Community (EAC) leaders proposed the formation of a joint military force in June.
Lieutenant-colonel Obiero Denis, commander of the unit deployed in DRC, explained the troops’ mission. “We have a mandate to fulfill, and it is divided into four parts,” he told reporters.
“The first is to work with our FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) colleagues to eliminate negative forces, and the second is to work with the humanitarian community to assist internally displaced people,” he concluded.
According to the UN’s humanitarian agency, recent fighting in North Kivu has displaced over 180,000 people.
The regional force will be led by Kenyans. Its total size, however, is unknown.