UNITED NATIONS, March 30 (NNN-AGENCIES) — The UN Security Council on Wednesday “strongly” condemned violence perpetrated by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, demanding that the militias “immediately and permanently disband.”
The statement of the body’s presidency was adopted only weeks after a Security Council delegation visited DRC, where they met with officials in the capital Kinshasa before visiting the conflict-torn North Kivu province.
“The Security Council strongly condemns the continuing violence and abuses of human rights by all armed groups, including summary executions, sexual and gender-based violence and large-scale recruitment and use of children,” the statement said.
The UN body also “demands that all members of armed groups immediately and permanently disband, lay down their arms… and release children from their ranks.”
The Council targeted in particular the March 23 Movement (M23) rebels, whose attacks have increased in recent months in North Kivu, which borders Rwanda.
The statement also “strongly” condemned the M23’s advances, saying they are “worsening security and stability in the region and further exacerbating an extreme humanitarian situation.”
It demanded the “end of any further advances by the M23 and its withdrawal from all occupied areas.”
The Tutsi-led rebel group has seized swathes of territory and advanced close to the regional hub of Goma, prompting the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) to authorize the deployment of a military force last November.
Kinshasa, independent UN experts and several Western governments say the M23 rebels are backed by Rwanda eyeing the natural resources across the border, a claim denied by Kigali.
The Security Council said it “demands that all external parties immediately cease their support” to M23.
Bintou Keita, the head of the UN mission in DRC, said at the Council meeting on Wednesday that the country’s “already immense” humanitarian needs “continue to increase.”
“This humanitarian crisis remains one of the most neglected in the world,” she said, calling for complete funding of $2.3 billion for the UN’s 2023 humanitarian plan for the DRC.