Check against delivery
We thank SRSG Leila Zerrougui for her briefing and reconfirm our support for the mission, all troop and police contributing countries, and the mission’s leadership in particular. We believe that the work you continue to do is important and indispensable under very difficult circumstances.
On the political situation, we are very concerned about the ongoing political tensions in the DRC. We call on all political actors to continue to solve differences by means of dialogue and in the spirit of compromise. In this critical time of transition, it is important to focus on necessary political reforms, security sector reforms, DDR, accountability and economic opportunities. None of the challenges can be met without strong and united Congolese ownership.
We remain concerned about the violence in the Eastern part of the DRC, especially in the Kivus and in Ituri, and especially with regards to the activities of armed groups such as the ADF. This violence is as always accompanied by high numbers of Human Rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence. It is clear that protection of civilians has to remain a top priority.
The humanitarian situation remains deeply troubling, with more than 21 million Congolese facing food insecurity. Therefore we urgently call on the international community to support the humanitarian response plan for the DRC. Germany has so far contributed approx. 72 million EUR for humanitarian assistance measures in 2020, including response measures regarding Ebola and COVID-19.
It is important to acknowledge hopeful developments as well. Let me mention three. First of all, the improved security situation in Tanganyika province and the Kasais. It is worth recalling that the fact that we can for now zoom in on 3-6 provinces in the East of the DRC is in itself a hopeful sign. It should be a reminder that now is also the time to support peacebuilding, stabilization and development efforts in post-conflict areas of the DRC. Secondly, the recent conviction of militia leader Ntabo Sheka for serious war crimes is an important step that shows that the fight against impunity in the DRC is ongoing. Thirdly, let me commend the DRC authorities, MONUSCO and all humanitarian and health workers in successfully fighting off another Ebola outbreak as well as in successfully mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the upcoming mandate renewal for MONUSCO, we believe that the mission’s main tasks – the protection of civilians and the support for the DRC in state and institution building – remain key, especially in the Eastern part of the country and given the challenging situation there.
At the same time, it is time to take the next steps on the path towards a reconfiguration and transition of the mission. Germany welcomes the joint strategy and the idea of a phased, regional and realistic approach that is based on conditions on the ground. We reiterate the importance of clear and binding benchmarks that guide the mission and the DRC through this process. At the same time, we underline the importance of remaining flexible: Progress in conflict and post-conflict settings rarely follows a linear and predictable trend. Still, it is crucial that the benchmarks are developed rapidly and that failure to meet them actually has consequences.
Sustainable progress and success of this transition will heavily depend on strong national ownership and responsibility. Therefore we call on the DRC government to strongly engage in the next steps of the transition, especially with regards to the regional and provincial joint transition strategies. Inclusivity is crucial. Civil society, especially women and local peacebuilders, must be part of the conversation. The same is true for much needed progress on community based DDR efforts, the creation of trusted institutions and the fight against impunity. This includes accountability for post-conflict and conflict-related sexual violence.
We encourage the mission to continue its internal reform process. More mobile and flexible troops will strengthen “protection through projection”. We call on the mission to make further progress on the optimization of the force setup and we encourage MONUSCO and the Secretariat to draw as many lessons learned as possible from recent or ongoing transitions such as UNAMID. In particular we believe that cooperation with the Country Team will be important.