|UN officials in the DRC have said the M23 rebels are well-armed and are growing in number [Reuters|
Military force not key to crisis in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who urges strengthened dialogue.
Ki-moon’s stance contained in a message to leaders of the Great Lakes Region was delivered on his behalf by Abou Moussa, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), to the mini-Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, in Kampala on 7-8 September.
“Military deterrence alone will not resolve the current crisis. I strongly encourage continued and strengthened high-level dialogue at the bilateral and regional level aimed at finding a durable solution, including through addressing the underlying causes of the conflict,” Ki-moon said.
“I am deeply concerned at the continuing reports of external support to the M23, and call for an end to all such support without delay,” he added.
A militant group, the M23, which the UN and Human Rights Watch said is funded by the Rwandan government, is accused of perpetrating widespread violations including killings and displacement of civilians in the eastern DRC region. Meanwhile, Rwanda continues to deny the allegations.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon said he remain deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian conditions in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo resulting from the activities of the 23 March (M23) mutineers, as well as other national and foreign armed groups.
“The humanitarian situation remains dire, with over 226,000 people displaced in North Kivu alone in the past several months while over 57,000 Congolese have crossed into Rwanda and Uganda,” he observed.
The UN senior diplomat believes worsening security and humanitarian conditions continue to pose a threat to stability in the wider Great Lakes region.
However, there has been calm in military activities by the M23 in North Kivu since July.
But Mr. Ki-moon said the situation remains very fragile, and “I call for the group’s immediate and complete cessation of all destabilizing activities.”
He once again condemned the violence and serious human rights violations committed by the M23, as well as other armed groups, against civilians. He said these violations need to be thoroughly investigated by relevant institutions and the perpetrators held accountable.
The United Nations said it stands ready to provide support, as appropriate, in cooperation with the African Union and regional and international partners as initiatives are being taken to address the situation in DRC.
Its Secretary-General said he intend to convene a high-level meeting on the situation in eastern DRC on 27 September in New York in the margins of the UN General Assembly.
“This event would provide a platform for further dialogue aimed at reinforcing regional efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Ban Ki-moon explained.
He announced the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, is visiting the region from 9 to 15 September in preparation for the high-level meeting.
Written by Modou S. Joof