DR Congo: Political Tensions, Armed Attacks, Displacement and COVID Threats Continue

Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative and Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO), warned of heightened political tensions in the country, including fissures within the ruling coalition and a presidential threat to dissolve the national assembly, UN News reports.

Over the past month, the mission’s leadership has met with numerous representatives, including civil society leaders, to diffuse “further provocations” that threaten security and economic stability, encouraging them to “resolve their differences through dialogue”, she explained, assuring that the UN would continue “to facilitate an expeditious and peaceful resolution”. 

Noting the importance of accountability for perpetrators of atrocities, the Special Representative highlighted the recent trial and conviction of Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka for war crimes, including rape, sexual slavery and the recruitment of children, saying the resolution “represents an important step forward for the Congolese military justice in combating impunity”. 

The UN official expressed concern over the situation in Eastern Congo, where “insecurity, grave violations of human rights and displacements continue to affect civilians, notably women and children”.

She updated that national and foreign armed group violence persists in the territories of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu, which serve to “highlight the crucial role” of the MONUSCO force in expanding state authority and “deterring violence against civilians”.

Other severe challenges include the theft of natural resources by armed groups, which, according to Ms. Zerrougi, require “regional and international efforts” to tackle.

At the same time, she saluted Congolese authorities for their efforts to “engage constructively with the country’s neighbours to resolve their differences, foster regional economic cooperation and consolidate regional peace and stability”.

The UN envoy also upheld that MONUSCO would continue to liaise closely with the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes to support the Government and work closely with the African Union, the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) “to ensure synergies and to make certain that our joint investment in supporting regional stability brings maximum results”.