Action urged on DRC and Great Lakes peace and security deal

By agency reporter
February 18, 2013

Christian Aid, the churches' global development agency, is urging the UK Government to further support the signing and implementation of the United Nations recently proposed DRC and Great Lakes peace and security deal, which, it says, was "inexplicably stalled" at an African Union Summit meeting in Addis on 28 January 2013.

Since the M23 mutineers withdrew from Goma in December 2012, global attention on the civil war in North Kivu has diminished significantly. The conflict, however, continues with regular threats of indiscriminate civilian attacks, strong FARDC military build-up, and other armed groups taking advantage of the power vacuum to further expand control over vast swathes of mineral-rich territory.

This latest humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC, which began in April last year, has already displaced more than 860,000 people in the region. Ongoing peace negotiations between the DRC Government and the M23 rebel group have not brought about any tangible results, although there is hope that those countries needing more time to reflect on the broader framework proposed by the UN will commit to its signing on 24 February.

Recognising that primary responsibility lies with the DRC Government and regional states including Uganda and Rwanda, both accused by the UN of backing the M23 rebellion, the United Nations’ ‘Peace Security and Cooperation Framework’ aims to deal with the underlying causes of recurrent cycles of violence in the Kivus.

It aims to dovetail national, regional and international commitments and actions to end conflict and reinforce national state structures in the DRC.

"Christian Aid is pleased to hear that the proposed process goes beyond tackling the symptoms of structural deficits of governance and security in the DRC and the Great Lakes. It is good news that it includes a strong political component that will also address the endemic weakness of governance in the DRC, but there needs to be strong international support including from the UK," said Chantal Daniels, the agency’s senior policy officer for the Great Lakes Region.

"This includes both strong political engagement and diplomatic pressure from the UK, as well as financial support for reforms," she said.

"We applaud the focus on the need for long awaited national reforms of the national army, police and judicial sector, and the electoral system, as well as the emphasis on finishing the DRC’s electoral cycle, under the oversight of a UN Special Envoy. A broad-based and inclusive dialogue with provincial and civil society, aiming to establish a coherent and shared vision for peace and stability, is key to success.

"With regard to the deployment of an additional peace-enforcing intervention brigade that will focus on preventing the expansion of armed groups and neutralising and disarming them, urgent development of demobilisation and reintegration packages for rebel soldiers is necessary," concluded Ms Daniels.

Christian Aid works through local partners with poor communities across the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda providing emergency assistance to displaced, host families and returnees, and support and education around sexual violence as a result of conflict.

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