Africa: Great Lakes envoy urges international support amid rising hostilities

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Speaking before the Security Council, Huang Xia expressed deep concern over the worsening security situation and potential for a direct conflict between the DRC and Rwanda, who have accused each other of supporting armed groups within each other’s territory.

Mr. Xia highlighted the resurgence of large-scale hostilities in the restive eastern DRC alongside the worsening relationship between the DRC and Rwanda.

“The military build-up of the two countries, the absence of direct high-level dialogue, and the persistence of hate speech are all worrying signs that we cannot ignore,” Mr. Xia emphasized.

Political efforts

The humanitarian situation in eastern DRC is equally dire, with a growing number of displaced people sounding alarm bells.

The UN envoy urged the international community to provide more substantial humanitarian assistance and facilitate the return of displaced people to their homes, underlining the importance of education for children as essential for the region’s future.

Mr. Xia has undertaken efforts to promote peace in the region by visiting several countries, including Angola, Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda, aiming to build trust and mobilize partners for a peaceful solution to the region’s challenges.

He stressed the importance of revitalizing the 2013 Addis Ababa Framework Agreement, which lays the groundwork for peace and security in the region.

Mr. Xia called on all armed groups to lay down their weapons and urged Congolese armed groups to participate in a disarmament and demobilization programme adopted by the DRC in 2022.

UN strategy

The UN has a comprehensive Strategy for the region, consisting of flagship initiatives designed to address the root causes of instability. However, the envoy pointed out that it lacks the necessary funding. He urged all partners to fill this financing gap, emphasizing the strategy’s proven effectiveness.

Mr. Xia also highlighted the importance of implementing a regional strategy on artisanal gold, which includes a traceability mechanism.

He explained the strong connection between the illicit exploitation and trade of gold and the financing of the many armed groups operating in eastern DRC, calling for the trade to be shut down.

The UN Strategy, reminded the envoy, places a particular focus on promoting the active involvement of women and young people in political dialogue initiatives, recognizing their critical roles in achieving peace and security in the region.

No military solution

In conclusion, Mr. Xia stressed the need to prioritize diplomacy and ongoing dialogue for a comprehensive solution to the challenges facing the Great Lakes region, asserting that military solutions alone would not be sufficient to establish lasting peace.

The situation in the Great Lakes region remains highly volatile, and international support and cooperation are essential to prevent further escalation and pave the way for peace, stability, and prosperity.

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