Statement by Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley at the UN Security Council briefing on the Democratic Republic of Congo

Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley at the UN Security Council

I thank SRSG Keita for her briefing today.

President, on the Council’s visit to DRC earlier this month, we saw first-hand the severity of the security crisis in eastern DRC, as well as the extremely difficult context in which MONUSCO is operating. We also saw some of the tragic human cost.

The United Kingdom remains deeply concerned by ongoing and intensifying violence, and deteriorating humanitarian situation in eastern DRC. We strongly condemn the continuing advance of the UN-sanctioned M23 illegal armed group across North Kivu province. The resumption of violence has caused significant human suffering and displaced over 800,000 people since March 2022. We strongly condemn violence perpetrated by all other armed groups. All support to armed groups must stop, including external support to M23, and we call on all parties to exert any influence they have to deescalate the situation.

We welcome indications of M23 withdrawal and the handing over of locations to the EAC Regional Force, but any withdrawal must be complete and in line with the agreed process through the Luanda roadmap. Now is the time, as we heard from the Special Representative.

We reiterate our full support to regional diplomatic efforts, including the Nairobi and Luanda processes. The UK urges all parties to respect the commitments they have made under these processes.

This includes the withdrawal of M23, an end to all support to armed groups, and to stop the use of incendiary hate speech.

Regional and bilateral forces deployed in the DRC, including the East African Community Regional Force (EAF), Ugandan People’s Defence Force, Burundian National Defence Force, and the recently announced Angolan troop deployment must engage with each other substantively and with MONUSCO on de-confliction of operations to ensure the protection of civilians, the safety and security of peacekeepers and the effective implementation of MONUSCO’s mandate.

President, the UK fully supports MONUSCO, including its vital role in protecting civilians and facilitating humanitarian assistance. We commend the Mission and the SRSG for their work in challenging circumstances.

But MONUSCO cannot of course tackle this crisis alone. Effective cooperation by the Government of DRC with MONUSCO is vital to ensure the mission can implement its mandate, in particular the protection of civilians.

We encourage the Government to engage in a serious dialogue with MONUSCO to clarify how we might achieve a responsible, conditions-based reconfiguration of the UN presence in DRC. We look forward to receiving options for this in July. The Government must also do its work with MONUSCO on critical pillars of the peace process such as DDR and security sector reform.

President, we must come together as a Council to deliver a very simple message. The violence must stop to give dialogue a chance to succeed. This is the only way to build confidence and to provide a lasting resolution to the crisis in eastern DRC.

Published 29 March 2023