Statement by Fergus Eckersley, UK Political Counsellor, at the Security Council meeting on the Democratic Republic of Congo.

First, the United Kingdom is encouraged by the two-week humanitarian truce that has been announced particularly given the worrying recent intensification of violence in North Kivu, including the fall of Kunyabalanga to UN-sanctioned group, M23. We call on all parties to the conflict to uphold the truce. We hope this will support the journey to lasting peace. We also welcome discussions between representatives of regional governments to reinvigorate the Luanda and Nairobi processes and we underline that a political solution to the conflict remains essential.

The United Kingdom strongly condemns attacks on humanitarian workers, including a recent attack in Butembo which killed two aid workers working for the British NGO, Tearfund. Targeting humanitarian actors is unjustifiable. We recall the inviolability of civilian camps and we express our serious concern about civilian lives being endangered by the positioning of heavy artillery near IDP camps. We are also deeply concerned by attacks on areas known to be heavily populated by civilians and we deplore ongoing reports of sexual and gender-based violence. 

Second, the United Kingdom continues to call for MONUSCO’s transition to be responsible and carefully considered to ensure that the DRC authorities are in a position to assume responsibilities and avoid a security vacuum. We encourage MONUSCO to implement lessons learned from its withdrawal from South Kivu as it looks ahead to subsequent phases of disengagement from North Kivu and Ituri where conditions for civilians are already dire. We further encourage MONUSCO and the DRC Government to collaborate closely on a strategy for the protection of civilians that focuses on strong political and community engagement.

Third, the United Kingdom takes note of the Secretary-General’s letter on options for potential support for the SADC regional force, SAMIDRC. It is important that any support does not impede MONUSCO’s ability to deliver its current mandate. This is a dangerous moment for MONUSCO and its peacekeeping personnel. MONUSCO must avoid being drawn into an escalating regional conflict.

President, this is why any support to SAMIDRC should be both anchored in the Luanda and Nairobi political processes and implemented in accordance with the UN human rights due diligence policy. Continual review against these criteria will be critical to any support we give.

Published 8 July 2024