Human rights under threat in DR Congo and beyond, Security Council hears — Global Issues

Bintou Keita, who also heads the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), said peacekeepers under her command were “determined to protect civilians and help deal with the drivers of conflict and violence”.

However, she added that “unity of purpose within the Council and between countries contributing troops and police remains essential for the mission to carry out its core mandatory tasks”.

Rising Victims

As MONUSCO along with the national security forces, known as the Armed Forces of the DRC (FARDC), have redeployed military personnel to the “Petit Nord” to respond to M23 threats, armed groups have tried to take advantage of the resulting security vacuum.

The M23 militia started in 2012 as a renegade force of army mutineers and committed atrocities and war crimes. The current offensive against government forces is said to be the largest in a decade.

Rising attacks by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, as well as attacks and reprisals by the Cooperative for Development of the Congo (CODECO) and other militias, have taken a heavy toll on the civilian population, the senior UN official said more than 150 civilians had been killed between May 28 and June 17.

“The humanitarian situation in the eastern provinces has deteriorated and the total number of displaced persons has risen to about 700,000 this year.”

incite violence

Meanwhile, rising regional tensions have been accompanied by a very worrying increase in hate speech and incitement to violence, Ms Keita continued, highlighting at least eight cases of hate speech specifically targeting Rwandan phones between May and June.

She said that while they all met the Rabat threshold — a six-part test to assess whether a given statement reaches the level of incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence — at least three came from Congolese military and police authorities.

“The United Nations has clearly condemned these reprehensible attempts to fuel tensions between communities,” she added.

End militant ‘plague’

Mrs. Keita said yes… the Security Council’s role to fully support regional efforts to resolve current diplomatic and security tensions between neighboring countries and “end the scourge of armed groups”.

“If the M23 continues its well-coordinated attacks on FARDC and MONUSCO with increasing conventional capabilities, the mission could face a threat beyond its current capabilities,” Ms Keita warned.

She also warned that continued militia activities in eastern DRC threaten to wipe out hard-won progress on security across the country and the region.

Jump start response

The Special Representative informed the ambassadors of a US$35 million Response plan for the M23 crisis, developed by the Humanitarian Country Team. The Humanitarian Coordinator has allocated $5 million from the DRC Humanitarian Fund for the plan to kick-start the response.

In addition, the current crisis has prompted a request for the development of a Central Emergency Rapid Response Fund (CERF) to address civilian needs in Ituri and North Kivu.

Photo by UN/Rick Bajorna

UN Special Representative Bintou Keita updates the Security Council for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

pay tribute

Finally, the head of MONUSCO expressed her gratitude for the Council’s continued support, “particularly at a time when the mission faces challenges in carrying out its mandate”.

I salute the courage and courage of the women and men who serve under the flag of the United Nationsand the commitment of their contributing countries, under these difficult circumstances”.

Cries of distress

Julienne Lusenge, president of Women’s Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development (SOFEPADI), spoke of a tragedy that has lasted “way too long” and a “siege” that continues to threaten civilians on a daily basis.

She cited horrific details of armed attacks, including a woman forced to cook and eat human flesh and the trauma often resulting from such abuses.

The internationally recognized human rights activist also detailed descriptions of mothers being forced to “boil dust” and begged the Council to hear their cries for help.

Click here to view the meeting in its entirety.

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