The Security Council today voiced deep concern over the recent resurgence of violence in the easternmost provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), warning of its potential to undermine the wider Great Lakes region of Central Africa.
In a statement read out by Ambassador Zhang Yesui of China, which holds the Council presidency this month, the 15-member panel said it was especially concerned about the humanitarian effects on the area’s civilians and urged Government forces and rebel groups to respect a ceasefire.
“The Council strongly condemns the continuing recruitment and use of children by armed groups as well as the continued prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence… It urges all parties to comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law.”
Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes in eastern DRC in recent weeks, mainly in North Kivu and South Kivu provinces, because of fighting between Government forces (known as the FARDC) and the rebel National Congress for People’s Defence (CNDP).
Armed groups operating in the region must lay down their arms and present themselves immediately to the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUC) for disarmament, repatriation, resettlement and reintegration, Mr. Yesui said.
“The Security Council welcomes MONUC’s intention to reconfigure its forces and optimize their deployment so as to enhance its efficiency within the existing mandate and troop ceiling,” according to the presidential statement, which noted the recent request from Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC, for additional capacities for the mission.
The statement urged Kinshasa to ensure there is no cooperation between elements of the FARDC and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a mainly Hutu rebel group.
It also called on other governments in the region to stop any support of armed groups in the eastern DRC, and urged the DRC and Rwanda to take immediate steps to reconcile their differences.