The United Nations Security Council today reiterated its demand to M23 and all other rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to halt “all forms of violence and lay down their arms,” amid renewed fighting in the countries strife-torn eastern region.
In a statement, the Council called on the M23 and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), among other rebel groups, to “immediately and permanently disband and lay down their arms” and said it was ready to adopt “additional targeted sanctions against those acting in violation of the sanctions regime and the arms embargo.”
They condemned in the strongest terms the “repeated and targeted attacks” by the M23 against civilians and UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the country (MONUSCO), which have killed several people, including a Tanzanian peacekeeper, and injured several others.
The peacekeeper was killed yesterday during an attack in the Kibati heights in North Kivu as MONUSCO supported the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) in protecting civilian-populated areas of Goma.
Members of the Council, who were briefed on this issue by the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, expressed their condolences to the family of the peacekeeper as well as to the Tanzanian Government, and called on DRC authorities to swiftly investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The 15-member body also expressed concern at reports of repeated mortar shells and bombs from DRC territory landing in neighbouring Rwanda, and called for a thorough investigation into the sources of these shells and bombs by the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM).
The Council praised the active steps taken by the MONUSCO to implement its mandate, in particular the protection of civilians, and encouraged the continuation of these efforts. They also welcomed the order by the Secretary-General's Special Representative in the country, Martin Kobler to take all necessary actions to protect civilians, and emphasized that any effort to undermine MONUSCO's ability to implement its mandate will not be tolerated.
In March, the Council authorized the deployment of an intervention brigade within MONUSCO to carry out targeted offensive operations, with or without the FARDC, against armed groups that threaten peace in eastern DRC. The brigade is tasked with neutralizing armed groups, reducing the threat posed to State authority and civilian security and make space for stabilization activities.