Delivered by: Mrs. Ameirah AlHefeiti, Deputy Permanent Representative
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I would like to begin by thanking Ms. Keita for her comprehensive briefing and her efforts, and Ambassador Biang for his leadership of the recent visit of the 1533 Committee to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. I also thank Mrs. Lilly Ndong for briefing the Council on the details of the visit. My delegation joined this visit, which gave us a clearer picture of the status of the implementing sanctions on the ground.
Additionally, I welcome the participation of His Excellency Christophe Lutundula Apala, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in today’s meeting, as well as the representatives of Rwanda and Burundi and I appreciate the intervention of Peter Mathuki and the efforts made by the EAC to support peace and stability in DRC and the region.
I express the UAE’s deep concern about the escalation of insecurity in Eastern DRC due to attacks by armed groups, who continue to target civilians and threaten to undermine peace efforts and the progress achieved after decades of international engagement in DRC.
There are also growing concerns over the rise of inciteful rhetoric, in addition to the escalating conflict exacerbating the severe humanitarian crisis, particularly with the Ebola virus continuing to spread ferociously. As civilians continue to flee, the numbers illustrate the gravity of the situation: so far, there are five million and seven hundred thousand internally displaced people in DRC, the highest rate of displacement ever recorded in Africa.
As such, the current moment requires prioritizing dialogue and focusing on reducing escalation and tensions, while giving greater emphasis on protecting civilians. It is important to redouble political efforts at the regional level, making them as inclusive and action oriented as possible. In this context, we welcome the continued efforts of the region’s leaders to harmonize the Luanda Road Map with the Nairobi process, and the high-level engagement with actors in Luanda and Kinshasa.
Considering the dire living conditions of the population, we stress the need to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches all those in need in a safe and unimpeded manner. The protection of civilians and humanitarian workers, as well as the safety and security of United Nations personnel and facilities, must remain a priority for the government of DRC and MONUSCO.
The situation calls for intensified action to address the growing spread of hate speech, disinformation, and misinformation, including incitement against the United Nations. We stress the importance of all actors contributing to the UN’s efforts to refute misinformation, including by making it clear, for example, that the Council’s arms embargo is imposed on armed groups and not the government. MONUSCO could also consider adopting a new strategy to address the challenges associated with hate speech and disinformation, and work to engage local communities in these efforts.
As for the situation of women and girls in the DRC, they require special attention from the international community, as it is well known that they are the primary target of sexual and gender-based violence. This requires holding perpetrators of these crimes accountable, while providing adequate protection and support to women and girls.
We affirm that ensuring long-term protection of civilians requires more efforts to create appropriate conditions for the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization, revitalization and stabilization programme, along with other projects aimed at reforming the security sector, so that the option of reintegration becomes the only option available to all armed groups.
In the context of the Council’s readiness to renew the mandate of MONUSCO in the coming weeks, we emphasize the important role of the mission in deterring the activities of armed groups on the one hand, and its engagement with political actors on the other hand to create an environment conducive to the upcoming elections. We recognize the importance of the mission working to facilitate dialogue with and within local communities to ensure social cohesion in DRC.
In conclusion, Madam President, the UAE will continue to support the path of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region towards peace and stability.