A choir was improvised for the occasion. Gifts and praise were also lavished on the soldiers. It was an escape for those troops who are still struggling to establish itself in the conflict ridden Democratic Republic of Congo. The presence of several other contingents, including the South African was extended on the ground for at least six months.
In addition to the difficulty in eradicating the rebel groups on the ground, the soldiers have suffered from the heat and the threat of tropical diseases. Despite the celebrations, UN forces have not forgotten the reason for their presence in the country.
“We are in Congo on behalf of the UN, but we have other bilateral missions such as MULISA team that plays an advisory role to assist the Congolese defense force security,” said Major General Barney Hlatshwayo, chief of military operations in South Africa.
In early 2013, the “intervention brigade” which consisted of 3,000 Tanzanian and South African troops had succeeded in eradicating several rebel groups including “M23”. In early December, South African helicopters managed to hit Uganda Islamist, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), during the attacks that left hundreds dead.
However, these operations are becoming increasingly rare, due to the unwillingness of the Congolese government to justify the offensive against armed groups. Groups with which it shares an unspoken common ground according to military and diplomatic sources.
On several occasions, the Kinshasa government has dismissed the charges. “The state is not involved any more in the fight against the rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FRLD),” says General Hlatswayo and added that his personal operations against the group has reduced its workforce to at least 400 fighters.