Security Council Adopts Presidential Statement on Visiting Mission to Democratic Republic of Congo, Affirms Commitment to African-Led Initiatives Tackling Crises
United Nations Top Official Says Country Suffering from Growing Catastrophic Humanitarian Situation, Appeals for Much-Needed Aid
Adopting a presidential statement today, the Security Council recalled its recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo amidst increasing violence and extreme humanitarian need, while also voicing support for African-led regional processes to resolve the crisis, as the United Nations’ top official in the country outlined the security, humanitarian and electoral challenges present on the ground.
By the text (to be issued as document S/PRST/2023/3), adopted at the end of the meeting, the 15-nation organ recalled its mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 9 to 12 March and reaffirmed its strong commitment to that country’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity. It also commended the stabilizing presence of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), reiterating its call on all parties to ensure full cooperation with the Mission.
By other terms, the Council strongly condemned the increase in attacks by the 23 March Movement, also known as M23, in North Kivu during recent months, which are worsening regional security and stability and exacerbating an extreme humanitarian situation. Further, the Council demanded full, immediate implementation of commitments relating to a cessation of hostilities, the end of any further advances by the M23 and the group’s withdrawal from all occupied areas as agreed through the African Union-endorsed Luanda process.
The Council also strongly condemned increased attacks by certain armed groups against civilians in Ituri and North Kivu, demanding that all members of armed groups immediately and permanently disband, lay down their arms, end and prevent violations perpetrated against women and children, and release children from their ranks. Further, the Council underlined the importance of a political resolution of the current crisis, urging all Congolese armed groups to participate unconditionally in the Eastern African Community-led Nairobi process.
At the outset of the meeting, Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO, reported that the security situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has, once again, “worsened markedly” since her last briefing. The intensifying conflict with M23 and other armed groups continues to inflict untold suffering on civilians and contribute to an increasingly catastrophic humanitarian situation — one of the most neglected in the world. Against that backdrop, she called for the mobilization of the $2.5 billion necessary to implement the 2023 humanitarian response plan.
She also detailed MONUSCO’s efforts to support the Government on the ground, including its engagement with the Congolese armed forces to protect civilians. She stressed, however, that military operations alone will not provide stability in the east, calling on the Council to encourage the parties to the Nairobi and Luanda processes to abide by their commitments. Also reporting on MONUSCO’s work to support upcoming elections against a backdrop of insecurity and humanitarian crisis, she added that the Council’s March visit demonstrated the Organization’s readiness to address the security, electoral and structural challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
When the floor opened, Council members observed that the visit allowed the organ to obtain valuable first-hand knowledge of the situation on the ground. Many expressed concern over the destabilizing activities of armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo — particularly those of M23 — and additionally, urged the organ not to overlook rising tensions between that country and Rwanda. Others underlined the need to address hateful rhetoric and disinformation directed at the United Nations presence, which puts civilians and peacekeepers at risk, also calling on the international community to assist United Nations and regional efforts to support Kinshasa.
The representative of Gabon, also speaking for Ghana and Mozambique, stated that the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for more than 25 years, has been “suffocating in the noose of local and foreign armed groups”. He therefore urged the international community to support the Nairobi and Luanda processes — African political solutions — also pointing out that tackling the security crisis requires addressing the looting of natural resources. As this constitutes a primary source of destabilization, sanctioning those involved in illicit resource-trafficking has its benefits, he added.
Similarly, the Russian Federation’s delegate urged Kinshasa to ensure control over natural resources for the population’s benefit, also calling on the Government to redouble its efforts to pursue an independent domestic and foreign policy to resolve issues that, to a large extent, result from the country’s tragic history. She also expressed concern over escalating tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, stressing that the top priority is ensuring the cessation of hostilities and facilitating inclusive dialogue.
Ecuador’s representative echoed that, urging the Council not to ignore elements in Rwanda that could exacerbate tensions, and underscoring that differences must be resolved through dialogue. He also noted that the Council’s recent visit was an opportunity to see the needs, challenges and opportunities present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, calling for intensified efforts to support upcoming elections, including women’s increased participation, and for MONUSCO to have the resources necessary to protect civilians.
The representative of France, on that point, said that Congolese authorities must also be supported in carrying out their primary responsibility to protect civilians. Regional and international partners must also engage in the humanitarian response, he emphasized, recalling the impressive mobilization of actors the Council witnessed during its recent visit to the Bushagara camp for displaced persons. For its part, France will provide €34 million to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, he added.
Meanwhile, the representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo spotlighted political, security and diplomatic efforts concentrating around the Nairobi and Luanda processes. The upcoming fourth phase of the Nairobi process will help armed groups join the Government’s Demobilization, Disarmament, Community Recovery and Stabilization Program, he reported, appealing for financial support to establish this key institution. On the security situation in the country’s east — dominated by the activities of armed groups, including the Rwandan proxy, M23 he called for bilateral and multilateral pressure to continue until M23’s full surrender and the withdrawal of Rwandan forces from his country.
Rwanda’s representative, however, voiced regret over the deteriorating situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to the lack of political will, urgency and action on the part of that country’s leaders. Kinshasa is using the conflict as a political stunt to garner support ahead of upcoming elections, he stressed, adding that scapegoating his country does not change the fact that the conflict stems from governance failures. Noting that MONUSCO has chosen to be a “silent observer” despite the intensification of hate speech against Congolese Tutsi communities, he called for appropriate action to be taken.
Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, United States, Brazil, Japan, Malta, Albania, China, Switzerland and Burundi.
The meeting began at 10:11 a.m. and ended at 12:17 p.m.
BINTOU KEITA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), reported that the security situation in the east of that country has, once again, “worsened markedly” since her last briefing. The intensifying conflict with the 23 March Movement (M23) and other armed groups continues to inflict untold suffering on civilians and contribute to an increasingly catastrophic humanitarian situation. In the Provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, hundreds of thousands of people have fled because of the activity of armed groups, she reported, pointing out that the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains one of the most neglected humanitarian crises in the world. Against that backdrop, she called for the mobilization of the necessary resources to implement the 2023 humanitarian response plan — which requires $2.5 billion. She also condemned persistent obstacles impeding humanitarian access, including the attack against a United Nations Humanitarian Air Service helicopter in February. Urging those present to finance the national plan for preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, she spotlighted the precarious situation faced by displaced women in the country.
She went on to say that, for its part, MONUSCO is working tirelessly in hostile environments to fulfil its mandate, focusing on supporting Government efforts to protect civilians, disarm and demobilize armed groups and implement security sector reform. The Mission is firmly engaged with the Congolese armed forces to protect civilians through a wide range of actions, including joint patrols, fire support, information-sharing, intelligence-gathering and logistical support. Noting that MONUSCO has also established static combat units in certain locations in Ituri to address rising insecurity, facilitate the movement of displaced people and secure humanitarian corridors, she urged the Government to reinforce its military and police deployments in that province.
Detailing other MONUSCO efforts, she stressed that the Mission’s effectiveness depends, to a large extent, on close, transparent collaboration with Congolese and regional armed forces to ensure optimal planning and coordination, mutual safety and human-rights protection. She added, however, that military operations alone will not provide stability in the east, calling on the Council to encourage the parties to the Nairobi and Luanda processes to abide by their commitments. She also spotlighted increasing tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda — including cross-border incidents that pose severe risks of regional escalation.
Against the backdrop of insecurity and humanitarian crisis, she reported that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is preparing to hold general elections in December. However, violence and displacement in areas under the control of M23 are impeding efforts to register voters in the east, and in the west, intercommunal violence is also hindering this process. In light of this, MONUSCO is working to support the electoral process, including by transporting 126 tons of election material to several provinces. Appealing to all Congolese stakeholders to work together to ensure a calm, transparent, credible and inclusive electoral process, she said that the Mission is ready and willing to support these efforts. She added that the Council’s March visit to the country demonstrated both solidarity and the United Nations’ readiness to address the security, electoral and structural challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), noting M23’s destabilizing activities of the eastern part of the country, observed that recently they have withdrawn from some positions, including around Sake. These disengagements must continue in line with the Luanda Process, including respect for the ceasefire, verification under Angolan supervision, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and the deployment of regional forces. As well, there must be combined efforts to protect civilians, with MONUSCO and the Congolese armed forces coordinating with regional forces to this end. MONUSCO must be provided with the means to implement its mandate and must also be able to support the deployment of the forces of the East African Community. As well, the Congolese authorities must be supported to carry out their primary responsibility to protect civilians. He also called for such partnership to be engaged in the humanitarian response, adding that Council members witnessed the impressive mobilization of actors on their visit to Bushagara. France will provide assistance of €34 million to meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations. Turning to the justice system and elections, he took note of strides made in combating impunity, including through a law passed on acts of sexual violence in December 2022, among other efforts, and voiced support for the upcoming elections to be held within the timeline set out by the Constitution.
FERGUS JOHN ECKERSLEY (United Kingdom), condemning M23’s continued advances across North Kivu Province and the violence perpetrated by armed groups, called on all parties to de-escalate the situation. He voiced his support for regional diplomatic efforts and urged all parties to respect the commitments they have made under ongoing regional peace processes. This notably includes M23’s withdrawal, which must be complete and in line with the Luanda road map, a cessation of all support for armed groups and an end to the use of incendiary hate speech. Regional and bilateral forces deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must substantively engage with MONUSCO and each other on the de-confliction of their operations, which is critical for ensuring civilian protection, peacekeeper safety and security, and effective mandate implementation. As MONUSCO cannot tackle this crisis alone, the Government must effectively cooperate, engage in a serious dialogue and clarify how the Council can achieve a responsible, conditions-based reconfiguration of the Organization’s presence. Violence must stop to give dialogue a chance to succeed, he emphasized, adding that this is the only way to build confidence and provide a lasting resolution to the current crisis.
ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador), noting that the Council’s recent visit was a valuable and unique opportunity to objectively and transparently see some of the needs, challenges and opportunities present in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, called for intensified efforts on voter registration and women’s increased participation. As his Government is notably concerned by the effect of worsening security conditions on civilians, which could jeopardize elections, he reiterated the need for all stakeholders to ensure free, transparent and inclusive elections as the only mechanism of a transition towards a lasting peace. Condemning the attacks by armed groups on the civilian population, he underscored the necessity for MONUSCO to have the resources it needs, especially on civilian protection. The human rights violations and abuses featured in the Secretary-General’s report — 628 of which were summary and extra-judicial executions, 11 of which involved women and 52 of which involved children — make it clear that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in an emergency situation, he said, stressing that the Council cannot remain passive in the face of such violence. It also cannot ignore that there are elements in Rwanda which could exacerbate tensions. Any existing differences must be resolved through dialogue and established conflict resolution mechanisms, he underscored.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), underscoring that this is a “pivotal moment” for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, urged the Council to focus on the security and safety of civilians. The Council’s recent visit to that country underlined the need for an approach that simultaneously addresses the causes and symptoms of insecurity while prioritizing the protection of civilians. Regional dialogue is essential, he said, adding his support for the deployment of the East African Community’s regional force. Underlining the importance of MONUSCO’s work to protect women, girls and local communities from sexual and gender-based violence, he stressed that women can only participate fully, equally and meaningfully in peacebuilding efforts when they are protected from violence. He also expressed concern over the ongoing spread of hate speech, disinformation and misinformation relating to MONUSCO and United Nations efforts more broadly, calling on the Mission to intensify efforts to counter these activities. As well, the Council’s visit to the Bushangara camp for internally displaced persons illuminated the consequences of not respecting international humanitarian law, he said, calling on all parties to refrain from targeting civilians and civilian objects.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States) reiterated his call on Rwanda to end support to M23, adding: “This is not to imply Rwanda is solely responsible for the conflict. Rather, M23 and Rwanda’s actions have escalated an already troubling humanitarian and security situation.” Further, he reiterated his call on Kinshasa to fully professionalize its security forces and to immediately end cooperation with armed groups. Voicing concern about disinformation and hateful rhetoric directed towards Rwanda, minority groups and MONUSCO, which is increasingly putting civilians and peacekeepers in harm’s way, he also renewed his call, raised in Kinshasa, on Government officials to denounce hate speech and hold individuals accountable for inciting violence. Attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces and Coalition of Congolese Democrats (CODECO) against civilians are also concerning and must not be neglected. Congolese authorities must ensure free and fair elections in line with constitutional guidelines. Turning to MONUSCO’s benchmark-driven transition plan, he called on authorities to closely coordinate efforts with United Nations leadership so it can take place safely and responsibly. Further, he called on Kinshasa to respond to the Council’s request for a confidential report on weapons and ammunition management efforts following the Council’s easing of sanctions last December.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), speaking also for Ghana and Mozambique, said that the looting, mass abuses, hostage taking and recent massacre are a crystal-clear illustration of the ignominious nature of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “For more than 25 years, the [Democratic Republic of the Congo] has been suffocating in the noose of local and foreign armed groups — more than 10 million lives have been claimed,” he reported, observing that the people in the east — having been subjected to a continued cycle of violence — seem to have resigned themselves to a gloomy fate. He called for the cessation of abuses against civilians, withdrawal of all foreign armed groups from occupied areas and an end to all external support. The Government must continue its security reform efforts and local groups must accede to the Nairobi process and the demobilization, community recovery and stabilization plan. MONUSCO must have the necessary human and material resources; the Government and troop contributing countries must better understand its mandate to ensure better on-the-ground coordination; and the Mission must be drawn down in a gradual and orderly manner with Congolese authorities, he added.
He went on to urge the international community to provide its support to the Nairobi and Luanda processes, which are African political solutions. Restoring peaceful and friendly relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda can be achieved through the regional initiatives that are already in place and with the international community’s backing, he noted, calling also for financial, technical and material support to these regional processes. Authorities must ensure that calm, inclusive and credible elections are held in accordance with constitution and domestic legislation. As well, tackling the security crisis entails addressing the looting of natural resources. Since this has been a primary source of destabilization and the main cause of abuses, sanctioning all individuals and entities involved in the illicit trafficking of resources has its benefits. “The international community must not remain indifferent to the suffering of the Congolese people — they cannot remain passive in the face of the tears spilled by the women and children in the east of this country,” he stressed, adding that the time has come for the Council to do everything it can to tackle the situation.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) observed that, while “the bustling streets of Kinshasa seem far away from the mountains and lakes in the east”, the whole country is affected by the conflict in its eastern provinces. Such conflict destroys lives and livelihoods, drains resources that could be used for development and prevents the Democratic Republic of the Congo from fully tapping into its human and natural resources. Recalling that the Council’s visit witnessed the distress and despair of thousands displaced by M23, he called for all armed groups to lay down their arms and disband and for the cessation of all external support to such groups. He also emphasized that, while the Congolese authorities bear the primary responsibility for tackling insecurity in the country, the international community can support these efforts. However, he reminded MONUSCO’s host country of its responsibility to ensure a safe environment for peacekeepers, calling for an end to misinformation and disinformation directed against the United Nations presence. Adding that the Council must not overlook rising tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, he urged both sides to commit to peaceful dialogue to resolve their differences.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) stressed that a cessation of hostilities and of any further advances by M23 — as well as its withdrawal from all occupied areas — are a prerequisite for stabilization. He called on all external parties to immediately cease their support to that group and encouraged MONUSCO and the East Africa Community’s regional forces to closely coordinate while monitoring the implementation of recent regional agreements. “Listening to horrific stories in Goma directly from those IDPs [internally displaced persons] fleeing from human rights violations and abuses was simply heart-breaking,” he said, pointing out that “the organized refugee and IDP camp has long since exceeded capacity, yet vulnerable people continue to arrive”. Since national security forces bear the primary responsibility for protecting civilians and ensuring social order, security sector reform must proceed more swiftly under national ownership. In that vein, Japan has assisted on technical training, infrastructure development and trust-building with local people. However, military measures alone cannot break the cycle of violence, he stressed, calling for regional and international cooperation to promote legitimate trade, tighten border controls and diminish the black market. He then underlined the importance of free and fair elections, encouraged authorities to continue their efforts and urged MONUSCO to provide the necessary support.
DARREN CAMILLERI (Malta) noted that, during the Council’s recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, members heard of persisting challenges from the testimonies of authorities, MONUSCO and residents of the eastern part of the country, where generations have known nothing but conflict and violence. Condemning all attacks on peacekeepers, he also urged all State actors to cease their backing of armed groups. Groups, such as M23, CODECO and the Allied Democratic Forces, are ravaging a land rich in resources which ought to be a source for wealth, he said, urging authorities to tackle corruption, undertake security sector reform and do their utmost to protect civilians. He also condemned all acts of gender-based sexual violence, including abductions and forced marriages, and called for the operationalization of reparation funds for survivors. Voicing concern over the displacement of 800,000 people since March, due to the activities of M23, he said the upcoming elections will be crucial in breaking the cycle of violence and fulfilling the aspirations of its citizens.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) observed that, as Government, MONUSCO and East African Community forces focus on M23 in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, other illegal armed groups are strengthening their positions. Also expressing concern over escalating tensions between that country and Rwanda, she stressed that the top priority is ensuring the cessation of hostilities and facilitating inclusive dialogue amongst all parties to the conflict. Further, Kinshasa must redouble its efforts to build effective armed forces and security institutions, pursue an independent domestic and foreign policy to resolve issues — which, to a large extent, result from the country’s tragic history — and ensure control over its natural resources for the benefit of the population. She went on to welcome the lifting of the notification procedure for the supply of military goods to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to support MONUSCO’s efforts in the country. The presence of MONUSCO peacekeepers in conflict areas is an important stabilizing factor, and the Mission should concentrate on the main tasks of its mandate. On the Mission’s planned 2024 withdrawal, she stressed the need to account for the situation on the ground in close consultation with the Government.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), stressing that war, conflict and hostilities have gone on for far too long, said that “[the Council] saw the consequences of this tragedy in the eyes of the people who have been displaced in the hundreds of thousands, living in disheartening conditions often deprived even of humanitarian assistance”. Against that backdrop, all Congolese and foreign armed groups must lay down their arms and participate in the disarmament, demobilization and community recovery and stabilization programme. Condemning M23’s actions in the east, he urged them to adhere to the ceasefire and withdraw from all areas. He also called on all States in the region to cease any support to M23 and stop the illegal exploitation of natural resources. Alarming and increased tensions with Rwanda in particular must be addressed through existing conflict-resolution mechanisms. War is never the solution and should not be the choice in any case, he underscored, cautioning that any deterioration of an already volatile situation could trigger massive escalations with dire consequences threatening Governments and populations across the Great Lakes region. He then stressed the importance of a transparent, inclusive and credible electoral process, called for hate speech and pressures on MONUSCO to stop and emphasized that the primary responsibility for security falls on the country and its institutions.
DAI BING (China) said that the Council’s recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo helped deepen members’ understanding of the situation on the ground by providing an opportunity to listen to the voices of people from all walks of life. Expressing concern about the worsening security situation, due to armed groups, he stressed that M23 must adhere to the ceasefire agreed in March, with the help of the African Union and Angola, and withdraw from occupied areas. On the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme involving 6,000 people from three provinces, he expressed hope that favourable conditions will be fostered so armed groups can participate in dialogue. He also took note of the encouraging role played by regional organizations to address the situation, including by the leaders of Kenya, Angola and Burundi at the African Union and East African summits, and called for targeted assistance to be lent to MONUSCO to facilitate a responsible drawdown. In addition, he called on the international community to support humanitarian efforts, noting that 6 million people need assistance. China is cooperating with the Democratic Republic of the Congo to strengthen its development, and its initiatives have helped expanded employment opportunities, he added.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland), voicing his concern over the deteriorating security, humanitarian and human rights situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, stressed that the attacks on civilian populations and infrastructure are unacceptable. All parties must respect international law and ensure unhindered humanitarian access to those in need. As the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians lies with the Government, the Democratic Republic of the Congo must continue its collaboration with MONUSCO to ensure a conducive environment for mandate implementation and the redress of misinformation. Only a coordinated political solution can contribute to the consolidation of peace, he emphasized, underscoring that any military action must be undertaken within the framework of ongoing political processes and aim to ensure that armed groups lay down their arms. In that vein, the Government must continue to put in place the necessary conditions for the operationalization of the disarmament, demobilization, community rehabilitation and stabilization programme. For their part, all parties must cease their collaboration with armed groups and Rwanda must end its support to M23. On strengthening the rule of law and the fight against impunity, he stressed that the Government must ensure accountability, restore trust between communities and with the State, and protect civic space to ensure inclusive democratic processes.
GEORGES NZONGOLA-NTALAJA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said that the political situation in his country is dominated by continued voter registration — with a view towards holding elections in 2023. As well, there are regional and international efforts aiming to reverse the spiral of insecurity in the east of the country. For its part, the Government is determined to hold credible, transparent and inclusive elections, he said, spotlighting its appeal to the European Union and other partners to provide election observers. At the regional level, political, security and diplomatic efforts concentrate around the Nairobi and Luanda processes, and the fourth phase of the Nairobi process will help armed groups who agreed to lay down their arms join the Government’s Demobilization, Disarmament, Community Recovery and Stabilization Program. Stressing that this programme is an important pillar in the overall peace architecture, he appealed to partners to mobilize additional funds to establish this key institution.
Turning to the security situation in the country’s east — dominated by the activities of armed groups, including the Rwandan proxy, M23 — he called for bilateral and multilateral pressure to continue until M23’s full surrender and the withdrawal of Rwandan forces. He also emphasized that MONUSCO remains an important partner for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, suggesting that the Council transform the Mission from a peacekeeping force to a peace-making one that supports his country’s armed forces, including through the reactivation of the Force Intervention Brigade. On claims regarding hateful rhetoric directed at Rwandaphones, he underscored that most of the population rejects such diversionist rhetoric, and on intercommunal violence, he stressed that violence based on xenophobia or ethnicity has not been seen since 1994. He called for the Council to take several actions, including strengthening sanctions against armed groups and their backers, exerting pressure on Rwanda and M23 until their full, unconditional withdrawal from Congolese territory and demanding that Rwanda compensate for the damage done to the Congolese population.
CLAVER GATETE (Rwanda) commended the recent deployment of additional East African Community Regional Force contingents to the Democratic Republic of the Congo from Burundi and Uganda. However, he voiced regret over the continuing deterioration of the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo due to the lack of political will, urgency and inaction on the part of that country’s leaders. Kinshasa is using the conflict as a political stunt to garner support ahead of the upcoming elections, he stressed, adding that scapegoating his country did not change the fact that the conflict stems from governance failures. The Congolese Government has evidently refused to adhere to all the peace plans from the regional processes, he said, noting that the first item in both the Nairobi and Luanda agreements is ceasefire and cessation of hostilities.
Instead of doing so, Kinshasa is fomenting hate speech and fighting alongside the very armed groups it should be disarming, and re-fuelling the conflict, he said, pointing to violations of the Luanda Roadmap by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and allied militias, which have reoccupied places from which M23 has withdrawn in the absence of the East African Community’s armed forces. Voicing concern about the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, he said no action has been taken against them, although the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo provides the United Nations-sanctioned militia weapons and allows them to fight alongside its armed forces. As a result, Rwanda’s territorial integrity has been violated many times over the years, he said, stressing that his country has the right to defend its borders. He also voiced concern over the continuing targeting of Congolese Tutsi communities. Noting that MONUSCO has chosen to be a “silent observer” despite the intensification of hate speech and subsequent human rights violations, he called for appropriate action to be taken in this regard.
ZÉPHYRIN MANIRATANGA (Burundi), noting that the scarce observation of international law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been the result of a precarious security situation caused by terrorist armed groups and negative forces, stressed that peace must be an urgent priority especially in light of the upcoming elections. The international community has undertaken Herculean efforts through MONUSCO and other bodies to restore security and stability. However, security concerns are not only continuing, but also leading to a humanitarian situation that demands urgent action and resolution. Against that backdrop, the deployment of the East African Community’s regional force, alongside MONUSCO and FARDC, will considerably alleviate the horrific suffering experience by civilians in the east, especially women, children and older persons. He also spotlighted several other positive developments, including an inter-Congolese dialogue, the announced deployment of 500 Angolan troops, field visits by the Council and the President of the African Union’s Security Council, and the recent meeting of the East African Community’s General Chiefs of Staff, as well as the 2 March coordination meeting — held under his country’s presidency of the joint mechanism — on M23’s withdrawal and the ceasefire’s implementation.
The political milestones that have been scheduled for the end of the year require the substantial support of regional forces and coordination mechanisms, he continued. To that end, there is an urgent need to stringently enforce all previous decisions of the Nairobi, Luanda and Bujumbura summits which have not yet been respected. There must also be smooth cooperation between regional forces, MONUSCO, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s armed forces and the new Angolan contingent so as to avoid having several centres of command, he said, calling on the African Union and United Nations to provide financial and logistical support to the East African Community’s forces. Coordination mechanisms — established by the Bujumbura meetings between the Chiefs of Staff of the armies that MONUSCO assists — must be strengthened as must the information and communication systems which link all forces in the country’s east. Reaffirming his support to the Nairobi, Luanda and Bujumbura processes, he underscored that these are complementary to and crucial for MOUNSCO’s mandate.