Former Kenya’s President and Facilitator of the East African Community-led Nairobi Peace Process has said the situation in the eastern DRC remains of grave concern, particularly concerning the humanitarian and security dimensions.
Speaking during his meeting with the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region Huang Xia, on Thursday April 13, Uhuru said the critical challenge has been building trust between the various fighting elements and governments, as well as the communities, especially those affected by the insecurity in the region.
Others in attendance in the meeting were teams from the Special Envoy and the Office of the Facilitator led by Amb. Macharia Kamau.
The Facilitator stressed that the issue of trust remains fundamental to resolving the challenge of security in eastern DRC.
“Therefore, it was clear that the Nairobi Process would have to intensify its confidence-building actions. This would be one of the key aims of the Facilitator’s work in the next few weeks, particularly as a build-up to the Nairobi IV Process,” the statement said.
Special Envoy Huang also shared the concern in the eastern DRC but noted there has been “significant improvement since the commencement of the Nairobi Process”.
He said his consultations were in preparation for his briefing to the UN Security Council next week in New York, as well as his preparation for the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the African Union Peace and Security Council Framework meeting scheduled for Bujumbura, Burundi on May 6.
According to the statement, Uhuru further emphasized the need for support for both the political and military tracks, and to reinforce a neutral force to buttress the political efforts.
“The East African Regional Force (EAC-RF) must continue to enjoy the confidence of all parties if it is to be successful in its mandate. The Facilitator emphasized that the role of the Regional Force as an inter-positional army would need to be re-emphasized and accepted by all parties,” the statement added.
The conflict in the eastern part of DRC continues to escalate, further worsening the humanitarian standards of the victims.
According UNICEF in March, as many as 750,000 young Congolese have had their schooling disrupted by insecurity caused by multiple armed groups in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.
More than 100 armed groups, including the M23, have for years been fighting for control of valuable mineral resources, while others fight protect their communities.
The conflict has triggered a humanitarian crisis as residents are turned into refugees, as well as a diplomatic standoff between DRC and Rwanda.
Kinshasa accuses Kigali of supporting the M23 group making incursions into the DRC’s east, and Rwanda in turn accuses the DRC of supporting the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) that has carried out raids into Rwanda in the past.
Uhuru raised the humanitarian issue, saying the conditions of the population remains of dire concern and requires greater attention and support from the international community.
Uhuru visited Goma and Rutshuru on November 15, 2022 when he saw first-hand the challenges internally displaced people were suffering.
“What I have seen is a catastrophe, what I have seen will be a humanitarian disaster if we are not careful. This war must be stopped immediately,” Uhuru said.
“All these children, mothers and old people we have seen have become strangers in their country. Whatever our differences, let us have pity on them and stop the war before we start talking”.