Delivered by: Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative
I would like to begin by thanking Special Representative Keita for her briefing and welcoming the participation of His Excellency Dr. Vincent Biruta, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Rwanda, in today’s meeting, as well as the Permanent Representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.
The Security Council’s visit to the DRC provided an opportunity for the United Arab Emirates to reinforce its commitment to the DRC and its people, promote regional dialogue and de-escalation, and support MONUSCO’s efforts at this critical time. The UAE commends the important work that SRSG Keita and other UN personnel have undertaken on the ground in the DRC. We also thank the Government of the DRC and the UN for ensuring the visit was a success, as well as France and Gabon for co-leading the mission.
The Council’s visit was also an opportunity to appreciate firsthand the work of MONUSCO peacekeepers as they carry out daunting but necessary tasks in a complex and often perilous landscape. The current situation is deeply concerning, and the insecurity in eastern DRC continues to deepen. Ongoing attacks by armed groups are targeting civilians and forcefully displacing hundreds of thousands of people. The M23, and other armed groups, present a serious threat to the DRC as well as to peace and security across the wider region. We also condemn M23’s violations.
This is a pivotal moment for the DRC, and the Council’s focus should be the security and safety of civilians, especially women and children. The Council visit has firmly cemented the UAE’s belief in an approach that simultaneously addresses the causes and symptoms of insecurity, while also prioritizing the protection of civilians. Following our visit to the DRC, I would like to emphasize three key takeaways:
First, regional dialogue is essential to meet the Congolese people’s aspirations for peace and prosperity. We commend the efforts of regional leaders within the frameworks of the Nairobi and Luanda processes and their work to harmonize these peacemaking endeavors. The UAE supports regional efforts that promote political dialogue and advance security and stability, such as the deployment of the East African Community Regional Force. For these efforts to bear fruit, de-escalation of tensions is more important than ever. To this end, we echo the call for the implementation of the Addis Ababa Framework Agreement by its signatory States, as made in the 17 February 2023 Communique of the African Union Peace and Security Council.
Second, protection efforts must be prioritized to ensure long-term stability. MONUSCO’s work is vital for protecting women and girls and local communities from sexual and gender-based violence. Women’s participation in peace efforts is a key driver of long-term stability. It is only when women are protected from violence that they can participate fully, equally, and meaningfully in conflict management and peacebuilding efforts. We encourage additional efforts from MONUSCO to this end.
Third, we are concerned about the ongoing spread of hate speech, disinformation, and misinformation against both MONUSCO and the United Nations more broadly. We reiterate our call for MONUSCO to strengthen its efforts to counter hate speech and disinformation. This Council can and should support those efforts.
In addition, the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and stabilization program must be fully implemented, along with other projects aimed at reforming the security sector. Failed efforts have only exacerbated the conflict, and effective reintegration policies can further encourage members of armed groups to lay down their weapons and re-enter civilian life. Here, MONUSCO’s role is critical, particularly by working with all stakeholders to support social cohesion and resilience in communities.
Further, as we approach elections, armed groups must cease hostilities and renounce violence. We must continue to promote conditions conducive to a peaceful environment and support credible elections in which all Congolese can have their voices heard.
Finally, I want to address the appalling humanitarian situation in the east of the country. The Council’s visit to the Bushangara IDP camp near Goma was a sobering reminder of the extremely dire situation facing millions of people who have been displaced from their homes and communities. It was also a clear example of the consequences that manifest when international humanitarian law is not respected. It is imperative for all those who bear arms to adhere to their obligations and refrain from targeting civilians or civilian objects. Likewise, the successful delivery of aid requires the safety and protection of humanitarian workers. We must all re-commit ourselves to meeting the urgent humanitarian needs of displaced persons and ensure they have access to basic services.
For the UAE, the Council’s visit to the DRC highlighted the work that remains to consolidate peace in the country, and the greater engagement and cooperation between key stakeholders necessary to achieve this objective. This Council must continue to engage with all partners in efforts to achieve stability in the DRC and the region.
Thank you, Mr. President.