UN envoy highlights alarming violence, neglected humanitarian crisis in DR Congo — Global Issues

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

The rapid expansion of M23

Ms Keita, who also heads the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MONUSCO), expressed serious concern about the rapid growth of the armed group March 23 Movement (M23) in the provinces of North and South Kivu.

The group has captured strategic locations in North Kivu over the past two weeks, including the Kanyabayonga, Lubero and Rutshuru areas.

During their latest attack, M23 and its supporters set fire to several DRC armed forces (FARDC) bases, displacing more people and further worsening the already dire humanitarian and human rights situation.

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

Gender related violence

Ms Keita also reported an increase in cases of sexual and gender-based violence, with 122,960 cases recorded in 2023, an increase of 3 percent compared to 2022.

Nearly 90 percent of all cases were female victims, including girls. The number of cases of sexual violence against children increased by 40 percent.

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

Terrible humanitarian crisis

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

“The escalating violence in the east continues to lead to massive population displacements, worsening an already dire humanitarian situation,” said Ms Keita.

About 7.3 million people have been displaced in the country, most of whom live in the east.

Humanitarian aid faces complex challenges due to the proximity of conflict fronts and the presence of heavy weapons around refugee camps, she said.

Address the root causes

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

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

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