By Serah Makondetsa:
Two Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers are still missing since they were sent into the battlefield under Force Intervention Brigade before exchange of fire with a rebel group called Allied Defence Force (ADF) in November last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Malawian soldiers were part of the United Nations Organisations Stabilisation Mission (Monusco) team which also has South African and Tanzanian troops.
During the intervention, six soldiers, who were part of the 850-member MDF squad, were killed and others injured.
In an emailed response during the week, MDF Public Information Officer Paul Chiphwanya said the situation remains the same.
“As already communicated in the press statements issued after the tragedy, a number of procedures were put in place to ensure that the two missing soldiers are located and secured,” he said.Advertisement
Asked on how long it would take MDF to declare the missing soldiers dead, Chiphwanya said MDF is waiting for a report on inquiries of the missing soldiers.
“The question should not be, ‘how long does the MDF’ but ‘What do the laws of Malawi say on such cases’. However, to put the issue in context, once the Board of Inquiries instituted are completed, the report will have to be produced. The report will then be referred to the Coroner for the purpose of carrying out inquest proceedings before a determination is made,” he said.
Chiphwanya dismissed reports that the soldiers are being held hostage in the enemy’s camp.
“We need not to speculate on this issue,” he said.
It was reported that at least 18 Malawian soldiers were victims of the operation.
Malawi first provided UN peacekeepers in 1994 when the country became a democracy after 31 years of one-party rule.
Since then, peacekeepers from Malawi have served in several missions, mainly in Africa but also beyond such as in Kosovo.
Malawi’s stature in international peacekeeping increased in 2013 when it started contributing a battalion to Monusco’s Force Intervention Brigade in DRC.
Before that, from 2011 to mid-2013, Malawi’s other major deployment was a battalion in Unoci in Côte d’Ivoire.
The brigade currently comprises approximately 3,000 forces from the three countries.
ADF is an Islamic-rooted group that was formed in western Uganda in 1995, led by Jamil Mukulu, a Christian turned Muslim.
Forced out of Uganda, it operates in the border area in DRC’s North Kivu province.
It has been blamed for recruiting and using child soldiers, killing hundreds of civilians since 2014 as well as 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers who died in an attack in December 2017.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues