BRUSSELS: The EU commends the resolute African-led initiatives to address the root causes of the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The EU reaffirms its full support to the Luanda and Nairobi processes and calls on all parties to rapidly implement the decisions taken within their frame. The EU welcomes the political commitment of the Heads of State of the East African Community (EAC) and of Angola, and in particular, the leadership of former President Uhuru Kenyatta, President William Ruto of Kenya, President Joao Lourenço of Angola and President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi, chair of the EAC. The EU joins them in calling on all actors to intensify their efforts for peaceful conflict resolution and to uphold commitments already made.
The EU reiterates its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries in the region and strongly condemns any support to local or foreign armed groups. Any backing of these armed groups, unrequested military activities on foreign territory, violations of the UN arms embargo and sanction regime are in direct contravention of applicable international law and of multiple commitments taken by the countries of the region. The EU takes note of the lifting of notification requirement for arms shipments to the Government of the DRC.
The EU welcomes the work and the recent report of the UN Group of Experts mandated by the UN Sanctions Committee on the DRC, is deeply troubled by its findings, and fully supports its recommendations. The EU urges the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda to respond in full to the report’s findings. More specifically, the EU firmly urges Rwanda to stop supporting the M23 and use all means to press the M23 to comply with the decisions taken by the EAC and at the Mini-Summit on Peace and Security in the Eastern Region of the DRC in Luanda on 23 November 2022. It also firmly urges all States of the region to prevent the provision of any support to armed groups active in the DRC. It calls on the DRC to stop and prevent any cooperation between the FARDC and armed groups, notably the FDLR, and to take all measures necessary to protect the civilian population in its territory. Reinvigorated consultations with all local armed groups aiming at their commitment to the Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Reintegration and Stabilization Programme, and the dismantling of foreign armed groups, are important elements of any long term political solution to the crisis in eastern DRC and the region at large.
The EU condemns in the strongest terms xenophobia, hate speech and incitement to violence targeting any person or group based on their race or ethnic origin, and calls on those responsible to be brought to justice.
The EU welcomes the renewal of the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), recognizing its critical role for securing future peace in the eastern DRC and thus the broader region. The EU condemns all violence against MONUSCO and any incitement thereto.
The EU reiterates its full solidarity with the populations in eastern DRC who continue to pay the price of protracted cycles of violence, human rights violations and abuses. The EU condemns in the strongest terms the high rates of gender and sexual violence perpetrated by armed groups and state actors in the DRC. Persistent armed group activity is worsening the humanitarian crisis affecting 27 million people throughout the country who are in dire need of assistance.
The EU remains committed and ready to support the stabilization and sustainable development of the eastern part of the DRC and the region by all means at its disposal, based on a renewed Strategy for the Great Lakes that is currently under finalization.