UN envoy highlights alarming violence and neglected humanitarian crisis in DR Congo

UN envoy highlights alarming violence and neglected humanitarian crisis in DR Congo

Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bintou Keita, informed the Security Council of an attack on the residence of a Congolese politician, during which two police officers were killed.

M23’s rapid expansion

Ms. Keita, who also heads the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MONUSCO), expressed grave concern over the rapid growth of the armed group Mouvement du 23 mars (M23) in North and South Kivu provinces.

The group has overtaken strategic locations in North Kivu, including Kanyabayonga, Lubero, and Rutshuru territories in the last two weeks.  

During their latest attack, M23 and its supporters burned several DRC Armed Forces (FARDC) bases, causing further displacement and exacerbating an already catastrophic humanitarian and human rights situation.

Other M23 attacks have killed and injured several civilians and worsened community tensions, Ms. Keita said, warning that the “the rapidly escalating M23 crisis carries the very real risk of provoking a wider regional conflict.”

Gender-based violence

Ms. Keita also reported of a rise in cases of sexual and gender-based violence with 122,960 cases recorded in 2023, an increase of 3 per cent from 2022.

Female victims, including girls, accounted for almost 90 per cent of all cases, with incidents of sexual violence against children increasing by 40 per cent.  

“This is solely the tip of the iceberg, as many cases remain unreported,” she said, warning that 2024 could see even higher numbers of gender-based violence.

Dreadful humanitarian crisis

The Special Representative further informed the Security Council that the DRC is facing one of the most severe, complex, and neglected humanitarian crises of our times.

“The escalating violence in the east continues to trigger massive population displacements, exacerbating an already dreadful humanitarian situation,” Ms. Keita said.

About 7.3 million people in the country are displaced, with the majority in the east.  

Humanitarian efforts face complex challenges due to the proximity of conflict frontlines and the presence of heavy weapons around displacement camps, she said.

Address root causes

Ms. Keita called on Member States and regional organizations to strengthen their engagement towards political and regional solutions to reduce humanitarian suffering.  

She urged them to recommit to addressing the root causes of the conflicts driving the dramatic increase in humanitarian needs.

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