The peacekeepers will return home after spending six months in Ituri due to COVID-19 induced lockdown and suspension of flights.
Rabat – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) announced on Wednesday that 60 Moroccan peacekeepers are finally on their way home from the DRC.
The Moroccan peacekeepers have been stuck in the DRC for months due to COVID-19 lockdowns and travel suspensions.
MONUSCO shared the update via Twitter on August 5.
The tweet includes a photo of the Moroccan peacekeepers next to a UN flight that will repatriate them from the DRC.
The caption of the tweet said: “Photo of the Day[:] 60 Moroccan peacekeepers from # MONUSCO?? left #Bunia, in #Ituri, for Goma, in #NordKivu (# RDC??), on August 5, 2020, to be repatriated to # Maroc??, after 6 months more spent in Ituri following the suspension of flights due to # Covid19.”
Moroccan peacekeepers in the DRC
Morocco contributes to UN peacekeeping missions with more than 2,100 uniformed volunteers. UN peacekeeping spokesman Nick Brinback said Morocco ranked 13th in the world in terms of peacekeeper contribution.
#PhotoDuJour 60 casques bleus marocains de la #MONUSCO?? ont quitté #Bunia, en #Ituri, pour Goma, dans le #NordKivu (#RDC??), ce 5 août 2020, pour être rapatriés au #Maroc??, après 6 mois supplémentaires passés en Ituri à la suite de la suspension de vols pour cause de #Covid19. pic.twitter.com/4xcX9DFQ4i
— MONUSCO (@MONUSCO) August 5, 2020
The spokesperson said that the North African country “has been an essential partner of the United Nations peacekeeping operations for many years.”
Birnback thanked Morocco’s peacekeepers for their commitment to preserving international peace and security, especially in Africa.
In June, MONUSCO honored the Moroccan peacekeepers in the DRC with a ceremony in Kananga.
“A battalion forming the Moroccan contingent deployed in DRC, under the command of Colonel Zakaria Sahili, was decorated by Lieutenant General Elias Rodriguez Martins Filho, Commander of the Monursco Forces,” the Moroccan embassy in DRC said.
The statement said that the Moroccan peacekeepers received the medals of merit in recognition of their “commendable services” in the UN’s mission in the DRC.
The steady return of Moroccans stranded abroad
Morocco’s COVID-19-induced lockdown left thousands of Moroccans trapped abroad since March.
The government launched repatriation flights in May before opening the borders for Moroccans, foreign residents living in Morocco, and their families on July 15.
Royal Air Maroc (RAM) and Air Arabia Maroc are operating the ongoing flights at “special prices.”