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Head of UN force in the DRC “extremely concerned about expansion of M23” rebels

Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in New York on Jul. 8, 2024.   -  
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UN Security Council

A humanitarian truce is in effect in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo but the situation remains arlarming given the rebels territorial gains.

Updating the Security Council on her mandated activities, the Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), expressed grave concern Monday (Jul. 08).

“The security situation in Eastern DRC has continued to deteriorate, reaching alarming levels of violence and civilian displacements. I am extremely concerned about the rapid expansion of the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) in North Kivu and the spill over into South Kivu, despite numerous operations conducted by the FARDC, regularly supported by MONUSCO and SAMIDRC.

Bintou Keita notably highlited the humanitarian catastrophe.

“The DRC today counts 7.3 million displaced people, including 6.9 million in the Eastern provinces alone. International Humanitarian Law violations are impeding humanitarian aid delivery. The growing proximity of the frontlines and the presence of weapons (including heavy artillery) within and around displacement camps and spontaneous sites significantly compromise the security of the displaced and resident populations

After birefing the 15-member organ, the Special Representative of the UN chief spoke to the press and detailed the disengagement plan of the MONUSCO which is set to enter it second phase when possible. The first phase was concluded on June 25th.

“It’s not exactly where we want all of us the things to be, conform to the disengagement plan; So, we will take time to consolidate what has been done in South Kivu, with the understanding that the government is going to continue to increase its capability, particularly the deployment of the security services".

Meanwhile the Permanent Representative of the DRC to the UN, Zenon Ngay Mukongo said, “The Democratic Republic of Congo will defend its territorial integrity, sovereignty, and the security of its populations at all costs while remaining open to a political resolution of the conflict with Rwanda through diplomatic means. However, this path will only be credible if Rwandan troops effectively withdraw from Congolese territory to allow for genuine and constructive dialogue.”

His counterpart Ernest Rwamucyo, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Rwanda said, “I wish to conclude by expressing, once again, Rwanda’s support for regional initiatives, especially the Nairobi and Luanda Peace Processes. Rwanda strongly appeals to the international community to support these regional efforts which focus on political solutions, including the need for a political dialogue, and the need to permanently address the issue of the FDLR by disarming, demobilizing, and repatriating them to Rwanda.”

A report by a group of UN experts unveiled Monday found that Uganda provides support to M23 rebels who are allegdly backed by Rwanda.