The United Nations Envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes Region today proposed a set of principles to guide immediate peace efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, while voicing concerns over renewed fighting in the eastern part of the country.
“The suffering and displacement of the people, especially women and children, in eastern DRC and beyond have gone on for too long and cannot be tolerated any further,” the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Mary Robinson.
Fighting between rebels from the 23 March Movement (M23) and the national armed forces (known as the FARDC) broke out again yesterday morning in Kibati and Rusayo, some 12 kilometres from Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
Tensions have been heightened in the region recently as the M23 publicly decried the deployment of an intervention brigade within the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) and broke off the so-called Kampala peace talks with the DRC Government.
Earlier today, MONUSCO reported that for the second day, fighting between M23 and Congolese forces has resumed in Mutaho, some 12 kilometres from Goma.
MONUSCO, which is closely monitoring the situation, has expressed strong concerns about this development while actively intervening to seek de-escalation of the situation. The Mission says that it is actively continuing its diplomatic and political efforts at all levels to contain and end these clashes.
The proposed principles Mrs. Robinson presented seek to guide immediate peace efforts to tackle the crisis in the region, while maintaining a focus on long-term solutions. They recognize the importance of ending the suffering of the mostly women and children who have been displaced by the violence, and call for the acceleration of the voluntary return of all refugees in the region.
They also call for the demobilization of all armed groups active in eastern DRC, and urge all parties to comply with all their obligations under international law.
“Any agreements reached between the parties should contribute to breaking the cycle of violence and impunity for human rights abuses,” her Office said in a news release.
Mrs. Robinson, who recently visited the country, also urged the DRC and all other parties to implement their commitments under a recently adopted framework agreement with a focus on a peaceful solution to the crisis in the eastern DRC and the region.
The UN-brokered Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework was adopted in February with the support of 11 nations and four international organizations (11+4), and aims to end the cycles of conflict and crisis in the eastern DRC and to build peace in the long-troubled region.
Mrs. Robinson will be joining Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on their upcoming joint visit to the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda from 22-24 May.