DR Congo: Humanitarian situation worsens; UN mission continues to battle armed militias
The UN envoy for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Friday denounced the recent violence against the Organization’s stabilization mission in the country, which has been the target of “manipulation and stigmatization”.
Special Representative Bintou Keita told the UN Security Council that following a resurgence of the M23 rebel movement, confidence in the UN mission, known by its French acronym, MONUSCO, has deteriorated.
‘Hatred, hostility and violence’
Violent demonstrations and serious incidents have caused the death of several dozen protesters and four mission staff, she said, strongly condemning “acts of incitement to hatred, hostility and violence.”
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In late July, protesters attacked and looted MONUSCO facilities, accusing its peacekeepers of being ineffective in fighting armed groups.
According to news reports, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi has instructed his Government to reassess the transition plan to expedite the mission’s departure.
Ms. Keita, who also heads the mission, stated that the UN is fully prepared to work with the Government to this end.
Violence against civilians
Meanwhile, the MONUSCO chief expressed concern that “armed groups continue to pose a significant threat and to commit violence against civilians” in country’s restive east, particularly the M23, Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO), and Mai-Mai militias.
“This insecurity fuels human rights violations and has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation,” she warned, noting that currently, some 27 million people need humanitarian assistance.
“A clear indicator of the deteriorating situation is the increase in the number of displaced people since January 2022, which has brought the total number of displaced people to 5.5 million – the largest caseload in Africa”.
Ms. Keita applauded the humanitarian community’s commitment to “stay, deliver, and scale up its operations,” and stressed that to do so would require long-term engagement with communities along with predictable funding.
MONUSCO maintains “a robust posture” and remains fully mobilized to address the persistent insecurity created by armed groups in the country’s east, she continued.
Moreover, it is providing operational, logistical, and tactical support in fighting all armed groups and continues to prioritize resource allocations to support the protection of civilians.
In addition to the efforts of MONUSCO and the national security forces, regional initiatives are also underway to stabilize eastern DRC and ease regional tensions.
However, the senior UN official upheld that these initiatives require consistent international support.
The Special Representative said that progress has been made towards 2023 elections, set for next December, particularly regarding inclusion and registration.
However, she also noted some “important challenges,” including in achieving broad consensus on different aspects of the electoral process and offered MONUSCO’s good offices to facilitate dialogue for a “transparent, inclusive, peaceful process” within the constitutional timeline.
Before concluding, Ms. Keita welcomed President Tshisekedi’s stance against hate speech during his address to the General Assembly.
She lauded the country’s efforts to curb inter-community tensions, particularly in the country’s east and encouraged the DRC to continue its efforts to fight racism and xenophobia