Security Council extends arms embargo against militia groups in DR Congo

Security Council extends arms embargo against militia groups in DR Congo

The Security Council today extended its arms embargo and other sanctions against militias operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) until the end of March, underlining that it remains deeply concerned about the presence of unauthorized armed groups, especially in the east of the vast and impoverished country.

The Security Council today extended its arms embargo and other sanctions against militias operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) until the end of March, underlining that it remains deeply concerned about the presence of unauthorized armed groups, especially in the east of the vast and impoverished country.

Council members voted unanimously this morning to maintain the sanctions – consisting of the arms embargo, a travel ban and an assets freeze on those who violate the embargo – until at least 31 March.

The 15-member Council expressed serious concern about the situation in the provinces of North and South Kivu and in the Ituri district, close to the border with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The presence of so many active armed groups there “perpetuates a climate of insecurity in the whole region,” the resolution said, referring to the Great Lakes region of Central Africa.

Council members reserved the right to adjust the sanctions as appropriate depending on the security situation in the DRC, which has suffered from decades of war and misrule but in 2006 held its first free elections since in more than 45 years.

They stressed the need for progress in security sector reform, including integration of the armed forces and reform of the national police, as well as the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration of members of both Congolese and foreign armed groups.

The embargo was first imposed in 2003 amid concerns that the growth and trafficking of arms was serving to fuel and exacerbate conflicts across the Great Lakes region. The Council also noted the link between the illegal exploitation and trade of natural resources in the DRC and the proliferation of arms.

The embargo does not apply to arms and related materiel intended for the use of units of the national army or police as long as those units meet certain criteria.