“It is imperative that this Council give its full weight to the ongoing regional efforts to defuse the situation and end the M23 insurgency once and for all,” said Martha Pobee, deputy secretary general for UN political affairs and peace. operations covering Africa.
Call to disable
Civilians are paying a heavy price for the violence, she said, citing information from the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA. Some 75,000 people were displaced during fighting last week in North Kivu province, while a further 11,577 have crossed the border into Uganda.
Two peacekeepers from the UN mission in the country, MONUSCO, were slightly injured during the hostilities, while at least 16 Congolese soldiers were killed and 22 wounded.
The UN and key regional and international partners have unanimously called for the M23 to lay down their weapons and participate in the process of disarming and demobilizing fighters.
Ms Pobee told the ambassadors she was encouraged that the DRC and Rwanda had decided to refer to an International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) verification mechanism, known as the EJVM, to review reports of human and material to investigate damage caused by explosives. ordinance coming from across their respective borders on May 23.
The head of the African Union has also called on the leaders of two countries to press for calm and a peaceful resolution of any disagreements.
“Indeed, every effort should be made to ensure that the parties make full use of existing mechanisms, such as the EJVM, which play an essential role in maintaining the climate of trust and cooperation that remains essential to the common effectively address the security challenges facing the DRC. and his neighbors,” Mrs. Pobee told the ambassadors.
“Continued dialogue between the relevant governments remains indispensable to prevent a further escalation of violence in eastern DRC.”
Prevent another crisis
UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Huang Xia, addressed the Council by videoconference.
In French, he said today’s situation is reminiscent of the M23’s operations nearly a decade ago, when the group captured the city of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
He urged ambassadors to do everything in their power to prevent escalation and another crisis, which would have immeasurable humanitarian and political consequences for the region.
Mr Huang said the eradication of armed groups in eastern DRC requires a comprehensive approach, especially in the context of the M23 resurgence and ongoing insecurity.
However, he was convinced that the “military option” alone will not be enough, underlining the continued efforts of his Bureau of Engagement.
It also underlined the importance of a continued high-level dialogue among regional leaders, and stressed the need to continue mobilizing bilateral and regional mechanisms, including the ICGLR and the Nairobi Conclave political process.
The UN envoy will begin a mission tomorrow to all affected countries in the region, with a message that is threefold and simple.
“My message to the countries of the region is as follows,” he said. “The region does not need another crisis; let’s keep the channels of dialogue open at all levels, including at community level; and help maintain the progress made in recent years thanks to the different cooperation mechanisms.”