A new government action plan in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) can reverse the tragic deterioration in the country’s east, where thousands of human rights abuses are committed against civilians by armed militants, the senior UN official in the country told the Security Council.
Bintou Keita, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Stabilisation Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), said fresh strides to peace and stability are prerequisites for the mission to responsibly withdraw, in line with a planned drawdown.
The security and humanitarian situations in the eastern Congolese provinces of Ituri, North and South Kivu continue to be a source of concern.
Amid ongoing violence by armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in late May saw large scale population movements, exacerbating challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and resurgent Ebola cases.
Recent bomb explosions in Beni and intercommunal tensions are flaring in Ituri and South Kivu add to the tension in the strife-torn country.
“Civilians remain under serious threat from armed group attacks as well as in the broader security context,” Keita told the Security Council.
On recent political developments, she said a new coalition government, the Union Sacrée de la Nation is in power, with Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Kyenge inaugurated late in April.
Noting a recent “state of siege” declaration in Ituri and North Kivu – where violence by armed groups is among the worst in the country – she welcomed commitments to improve civilian protection, combat those responsible for crime and hold national and local elections in 2023.
Keita drew Council’s attention to an action plan released by the new Government, which aims to neutralise armed groups.
It includes a new programme for disarmament, demobilisation, community re-integration and stabilisation of former combatants.
As previously requested by the Council, Keita announced establishment of a joint working group on which MONUSCO and the Congolese Government will serve, to push the new action plan.
Launched on 5 July, its first task will be to develop a plan for MONUSCO’s transition and gradual drawdown, including concrete milestones and indicators, to be submitted to the Council in September.
Discussions about MONUSCO’s drawdown have been under way since 2018, when a peaceful handover brought President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi to power.
A joint strategy for the Mission’s drawdown, laid out in 2020, is progressively consolidating the UN footprint in North and South Kivu as well as Ituri.
MONUSCO’s operations in the Kasaïs ended in June and according to the joint strategy, the Mission will withdraw from Tanganyika province by mid-2022, conditions allowing.