Delivered by: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
I would like to join others by thanking Assistant Secretary-General Pobee for her informative briefing, and I also welcome the participation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda at today’s meeting.
ASG Pobee’s insights depict ever-evolving security and humanitarian challenges on the ground, and there is clearly no straightforward solution. But we have acknowledged today the urgency of the situation and the need to work towards the conditions for longer-term stability for the DRC.
I wish to make two points to this effect.
First, the protection of civilians must remain at the centre of all peace efforts.
It is essential to remember that international humanitarian law is unequivocal on the obligations of all parties to conflict regarding the protection of civilians.
The United Arab Emirates reiterates its condemnation of the actions of M23 and other armed groups. We are particularly appalled by the recent heinous attack by ADF on a school in Uganda that left 41 dead.
Armed groups, including the M23, must lay down their weapons and cease their hostilities permanently and unconditionally. Efforts to ensure their withdrawal must be redoubled.
We further condemn all forms of hate speech that fuel hostility and discrimination and divide communities. In Resolution 2686, the Council recognised that hate speech and related forms of intolerance can contribute to driving conflict and require a whole-of-society, as well as government, approach.
Putting an end to violence at the intercommunal level – before it escalates – demands resources and effective mediation initiatives.
There is a critical role for MONUSCO and other international partners to support these efforts and ensure they have local buy-in. MONUSCO, in particular, should regularly consult civilian populations and civil society about their protection needs and incorporate this into its protection activities. We also encourage them to empower local actors to condemn hate speech and the stigmatization of communities.
It will also be important to include a strategy for the protection of civilians in the upcoming plan on the draw-down of MONUSCO, with a particular emphasis on the protection of internal displacement sites. We strongly condemn the recent attacks by CODECO on Internally Displaced Persons camps. These IDP camps are often the only safe haven for civilians in vulnerable situations and must be protected with the full force of the international community’s ability.
Second, we cannot turn a blind eye to the suffering of the people of the DRC, particularly those in Eastern DRC.
The DRC faces a trio of crises: a dramatic increase in sexual violence, food insecurity, and health and climate risk. Each aggravate an already dire humanitarian context and have even prompted a UN system-wide humanitarian scale up.
Last month in North Kivu, Medicins sans Frontieres reported that nearly 50 people per day were seeking medical treatment following a sexual assault in just one clinic. Sexual violence in IDP camps around Goma renders daily activities a constant risk for women and girls.
Meanwhile, food insecurity is rapidly increasing. In some localities, up to 65% of the population are going hungry. Humanitarian support must be scaled up significantly as the plan remains underfunded.
The work by Congolese and international humanitarian workers on behalf of the people of the DRC is essential and should be supported as well.
Despite the current security situation in the DRC, peace is not only possible, but attainable.
Dialogue and diplomacy are the foundation of a secure, stable, and prosperous DRC.
For this to happen, inclusive dialogue will be key to better addressing issues such as the instrumentalization of inter-ethnic incitement and conflict at the community level. This is particularly timely as the country prepares to hold national elections later this year.
Regional diplomatic efforts are paramount. The UAE supports all initiatives seeking to end the conflict in the East, including the Nairobi Process, the Luanda Process, and other regional initiatives, including the outcomes of the quadripartite process happening this week. All of these processes seek to support the DRC in its quest for peace and stability, but coordination and unity of purpose among these key initiatives will also be essential.
The UAE is unwavering in its support for the DRC’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We reaffirm our commitment to aiding its path towards peace and stability.