The United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Saïd Djinnit, and three South African ministers yesterday called for urgent military action against the FDLR militia.
Djinnit held extensive consultations with South African ministers of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Defence, Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula; and State Security, David Mahlobo in Pretoria.
The meeting reviewed the current situation in the Great Lakes region, focusing on urgent political and security issues as well as means to advance long-term regional economic cooperation and development.
Noting join efforts in improving the dire situation of women in the region, thousands of whom suffer daily unspeakable violence due to conflict, the meeting was firm on the need to act decisively against armed groups in eastern DR Congo, notably the FDLR and Uganda’s Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), according to a release.
The armed groups continue to exert a heavy toll on the civilian population and their activities continue to undermine regional trust and cooperation.
The six-month deadline given to the FDLR to voluntarily disarm by the International Conference on the Great Lakes region (ICGLR) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) expired on January 2.
“We continue to witness horrific acts of violence perpetrated by illegal armed groups in eastern DR Congo, many of which are directed at women and children… and in the absence of progress, military action by the Government of DR Congo and Monusco should now commence without delay,” Djinnit said.
The Security Council has also called for joint operations by the DR Congo armed forces (FARDC) and the UN stabilisation force, Monusco.
President Kagame told journalists in Kigali on Thursday that he was not sure whether Monusco would finally address the problem of FDLR militia, based on past experiences, but was watching to see whether those concerned would honour their recent promises.
The military offensive is supposed to be conducted by the Force Intervention Brigade of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Congo (Monusco), but instead the UN troops have recently launched attacks against Burundian rebels, the National Liberation Force (FNL), also based in Eastern DR Congo.
Djinnit’s visit comes two weeks ahead of a major meeting of Heads of State of the region under the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and region, scheduled to take place on January 31 in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the African Union summit.