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DRC SECURITY SITUATION: Crisis In East Congo Is Worse In Last 3 Months

UN assistant secretary general for Africa, Martha Pobee, says the security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has deteriorated over the past three months.

Ms Pobee told the Security Council on Monday at the UN headquarters that the security situation had worsened in that part of the country despite a lull in the fighting between M23 rebels and the national army (FARDC).

“So far, the ceasefire between the M23 and the FARDC has held up relatively well and has contributed to some security gains. The relative calm in Rutshuru territory, for example, allowed more than 45,000 people from the Bishusha group to return home,” the UN top official said.

She noted, however, that M23’s withdrawal from the territory has been “piecemeal, tactical, and political,” while the armed group still controls much of Masisi and Rutshuru, together with the movement of people and goods in these areas.

She added that its “offensive repositioning in recent weeks” had raised fears that hostilities could resume anytime.

Ms Pobee applauded the regional leaders’ engagement of the parties concerned in implementing the decisions of the Luanda Road Map and the Nairobi process.

She reiterated the readiness of the UN mission in DRC (MONUSCO) to back up Congolese authorities with the “pre-cantonment and disarmament” of the powerful rebel force.

The top UN official said she was pleased to note that last week, MONUSCO, the East African Community Regional Force and the expanded Joint Verification Mechanism had undertaken a reconnaissance mission to the Rumangabo base to assess the conditions for beginning the disarmament and demobilization process of M23 in earnest.

“For these efforts to bear fruit, it is urgent that the M23 withdraw completely from the occupied territories, lay down its arms unconditionally and join the Demobilization, Disarmament, Recovery and Community Stabilisation Programme,” she added.

According to her, the security gains in North Kivu are fragile and have been overshadowed by the deteriorating situation in Ituri province, which has suffered from the security vacuum created by the redeployment of FARDC to North Kivu.

Over 600 people have been killed by armed groups in the past three months, with CODECO, the Zairean militia and the ADF the main perpetrators of these atrocities.

The senior UN official, therefore, urged all armed groups to cease hostilities and called for the redeployment of national security forces, particularly in Ituri, to restore state authority.

In response to the insecurity in eastern DRC, she said MONUSCO had continued to do everything possible to fulfil its mandate to protect civilians.

CREDIT: Gazette GR

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