Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the agreement reached today between the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and armed groups in the country’s war-torn east as an “important step,” pledging the United Nations’ continuing support
to end the suffering of the population there.
Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson that he “is very encouraged by the commitment of the armed groups of North and South Kivu to end all hostilities” reflected in the ‘Actes d’engagement’ signed by these groups and the Government.
In recent months, fighting has escalated between Government troops and rebels allied with dissident General Laurent Nkunda, forcing hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes.
The UN refugee agency estimates that over the last year, a mix of conflict, military build-up and spiralling lawlessness has displaced 400,000 people in North Kivu – the worst displacement since the end of the DRC’s civil war in 2003. In total, there are an estimated 800,000 displaced people in the province, including those uprooted by previous conflicts.
Today’s deal is “an important step towards restoring lasting peace and stability in the Great Lakes region,” the statement said.
Mr. Ban said the new pact complements the Joint Nairobi Communiqué from last November, in which the DRC and Rwanda agreed to work together against threats to peace and stability in the region.
He congratulated the Government and participants for the successful conclusion of the UN-backed Conference on Peace, Security and Development, which wrapped up yesterday in Goma, North Kivu.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative also hailed the ‘Actes d’engagement,’ saying the people of the Kivus – especially the region’s women and the children – can contemplate “a better future, free from all violence.”
Alan Doss, who also serves as head of the UN peacekeeping mission known as MONUC which operates in the vast Central African nation, called for efforts to ensure that this goal becomes a reality.
In a related development, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of the DRC will soon sign an agreement worth $390 million for a good governance project.
The initiative, to run from this year until 2012, is a UNDP-led effort to promote stable and legitimate governance, as well as economic, judicial and security sector reform.