Delivered by: Nasra AlRahma, First Secretary
I thank Special Envoy Xia for his informative briefing. I also thank Mr. João Samuel Caholo, the Executive Secretary of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, and Ms. Joséphine Malimukono for their contributions to today’s discussion. I welcome the participation of the representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda in today’s meeting.
The UAE recognizes the critical role of the states of the Great Lakes region in efforts to stabilize the continent. These include the implementation of the 2013 Framework for Action on Peace, Security, and Cooperation in the Great Lakes. In this same vein, I would like to emphasize three points to help bring security, stability, and prosperity to the region:
First, it is important to renew commitment to a political solution to the current regional crisis and to continue strengthening coordination between regional initiatives, including the Luanda and Nairobi processes, which aim to support peace efforts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We look forward to the recommendations set to be presented ahead of the high-level meeting on regional monitoring mechanism for the peace, security, and cooperation framework, to be held in Uganda next year, as a follow-up to the previous meeting in Burundi. Revitalizing this framework is important to support stability in the region.
We believe that efforts to evaluate the progress made in implementing the Luanda Road Map commitments, including those undertaken by President Lourenço to hold periodic meetings with regional parties, will be important to ensure its implementation.
The success of all these efforts and continuing to build on them requires enhancing coherence between ongoing initiatives. The quadripartite summit held in June, which included the East African Community, the Economic Community of Central African States, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, and the Southern African Development Community, is an effective example of how strengthening coordination between all parties concerned can help pave the way towards regional peace in the region.
There is no doubt that finding a lasting solution in the long term requires addressing the root causes of insecurity in the region. This is why it is important for regional actors to continue their efforts to encourage dialogue and take preventive measures to enhance trust and tolerance within and between communities. The role of the Special Envoy, through his good offices, is also equally vital in terms of supporting efforts to de-escalate tensions and facilitate dialogue.
Second, civilians must be protected from attacks by armed groups, and their safety must remain at the heart of all efforts aimed at achieving peace in the region. It is concerning that the activities of armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo continue. This poses a serious threat to the safety of civilians, in addition to obstructing development efforts.
The UAE condemns the hostile actions committed by the M23 and all other armed groups and call on them to lay down their arms permanently and unconditionally. Actors should also prioritize the protection of civilians, especially women and children, and stop all forms of violence against them. Parties need to adhere to international humanitarian law and stop all forms of violence against civilians. We reiterate the importance of accelerating the implementation of the disarmament, demobilization, social reintegration, and stabilization program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Third, special attention must be paid to the serious and dire humanitarian situation in the region, especially with the continued displacements due to armed conflicts and the instability exacerbated by climate change. According to the latest report of the Secretary-General, there are more than 4.7 million refugees and asylum seekers and more than 11.6 million internally displaced people in the Great Lakes region. It is also important to reduce food insecurity, a serious challenge in the region. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo alone, more than 25 million people suffer from acute food insecurity. In this context, we stress the importance of facilitating the work of humanitarian organizations that provide basic and relief services, and for all actors to ensure that humanitarian workers and humanitarian facilities are protected as guaranteed under international humanitarian law.
In conclusion, the UAE affirms its commitment to supporting regional efforts, the efforts of the United Nations, and those of all other partners, to supporting the Great Lakes region in its quest to achieve peace and stability.
The UAE stresses the importance of United Nations agencies working together to ensure a consistent, integrated, and strategic approach to help the region overcome the challenges it faces. It is important that they work in close cooperation with the relevant authorities in the region to preserve the gains achieved in peacebuilding, in particular in the context of the withdrawal of MONUSCO from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here we should not fail to praise the efforts of the Peacebuilding Commission and its continued involvement in the region.
Thank you, Mr. President.