At the recent United Nations Security Council Briefing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UN Assistant Secretary General for Africa Martha Pobee warned that the security situation in the DRC has deteriorated. In the last months alone, hundreds of people have been killed by armed groups.
Ms. Probee said MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping force, continues “to do everything possible to fulfill its mandate to protect civilians.” MONUSCO has been in the DRC since 1999, and its mandate was renewed for a year last December with the goal of the force’s eventual withdrawal from the DRC. In recent months, however, the DRC government has increased calls for MONUSCO to withdraw from the country after the elections planned for December 2023.
U.S. Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs at the U.N Robert Wood expressed concern over those calls.
“MONUSCO cannot – and should not - stay in the DRC indefinitely. But there is broad consensus that the DRC government will have not met the benchmarks it agreed upon as the minimum conditions for MONUSCO’s drawdown by the end of 2023,” he said. “A precipitous withdrawal of MONUSCO would likely leave a security vacuum that state authorities are unable to fill, with devastating effects for the region’s most vulnerable populations.”
The humanitarian crisis, Ambassador Wood noted, is also worsening due to continued violence, “resulting in one million internally displaced person, an appalling escalation in gender-based violence – including conflict-related sexual violence - and immense human suffering.”
“To address such a pressing and urgent situation, the DRC and Great Lakes Region need political will, a commitment to dialogue, and a willingness to make hard decisions and pursue much needed reform. They also need MONUSCO,” he said.
Ambassador Wood emphasized that the United States is committed to ensuring MONUSCO can deliver on its mandate to protect civilians and assist the DRC strengthen key governance, justice, and security institutions. “In order for the mission to succeed, it deserves this Council’s support and that of the DRC government. The people of the DRC deserve peace,” said Ambassador Wood. “The United States stands with them in their pursuit of a better future.”