By Henry Mukasa
The United Nations has commended regional leaders meeting in Kampala for efforts to resolve the conflict in Eastern DRC through dialogue.
In a statement read at the opening of the summit at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Saturday morning, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon thanked President Yoweri Museveni, the host, for his stewardship in convening the conference regional leaders for “concerted efforts to find a way forward to resolve the situation.”
“This Summit takes place at a critical juncture. I hope that further progress will be made in developing a roadmap of initiatives to address the situation in eastern DRC and look forward to the outcomes,” Ban Ki-moon said.
“The United Nations stands ready to provide support, as appropriate, in cooperation with the African Union and regional and international partners,” he added.
Ban Ki-moon in a speech delivered by his special representative, Abou Moussa, the UN chief pointed out that he was deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian conditions in eastern DRC.
He said the humanitarian situation, caused by activities of 23 March (M23) DRC army mutineers, as well as other national and foreign armed groups, remains dire, with over 226,000 people displaced in North Kivu alone. Over 57,000 Congolese have crossed into Rwanda and Uganda, he noted.
“The worsening security and humanitarian conditions continue to pose a threat to stability in the wider Great Lakes region,” Ban Ki-Moon said.
“While there has been a lull in military activities by the M23 in North Kivu since July, the situation remains very fragile, and I call for the group’s immediate and complete cessation of all destabilizing activities,” he appeared.
The UN boss condemned the violence and serious human rights violations committed by the M23, as well as other armed groups, against civilians, “which need to be thoroughly investigated by relevant institutions and the perpetrators held accountable.”
Ban revealed that he was “deeply concerned at the continuing reports of external support to the M23, and call for an end to all such support without delay.” He however hastened to add that military deterrence alone will not resolve the current crisis in the DRC.
“I strongly encourage continued and strengthened high-level dialogue at the bilateral and regional level aimed at finding a durable solution including through addressing the underlying causes of the conflict,” he said.
The summit under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) is the third such gathering in the past two months since M23 rebels launched war on the Government of President Kabila in April. The first was held at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa in July while the second was held in Munyonyo on August 7.
Leaders are expected to issue a declaration on the deployment on the deployment of a neutral international force in the disputed areas, among other things. President Joseph Kabila of DRC among other leaders is attending.
Building on the summit, the UN chief revealed, he will convene, on 27 September in New York, a High-Level meeting on the situation in eastern DRC in the margins of the General Assembly.
The Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, he said, will be visiting the region from 9 to 15 September in preparation for that meeting.