The members of the Security Council held a video conference on 22 April 2020 to discuss the situation in the Great Lakes Region and the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region. They were briefed by Mr. Huang Xia, Special envoy of the Secretary‑General for the Great Lakes Region.
The members of the Security Council noted with concern the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the countries of the Great Lakes region. They expressed their solidarity with the people and the Governments of the region and welcomed national, regional and international efforts made so far to contain it. They called on the Governments of the region to strengthen the coordination to meet this challenge and avert setbacks in the region’s recent progress. The members of the Security Council also called upon Governments of the region to ensure that security forces show restraint in the implementation of preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, with full respect of human rights. They further expressed concern with the risk of the resurgence of the Ebola virus disease in the region and urged all relevant stakeholders to remain vigilant.
The members of the Security Council joined the Secretary General in calling on all actors in the region to commit to a humanitarian ceasefire in the current circumstances and resolve their differences peacefully.
The members of the Council also noted with grave concern the increase in violence against women and girls within the Great Lakes region during the COVID-19 pandemic, and called on Governments to establish appropriate mechanisms for timely alerts, monitoring, investigations and assistance of domestic and gender-based violence victims, including strengthening legislation to end impunity.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the positive developments in the Great Lakes region and commended steps taken by regional leaders to deescalate tensions, build confidence and advance regional cooperation. They welcomed in particular the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2019 between Rwanda and Uganda under the auspices of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and encouraged Presidents João Lourenço, Felix Tshisekedi, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni to continue their efforts to improve relations in the region.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their full support to the Special Envoy of the Secretary General in fulfilling his mandate. In light of the postponement of the 10th High-Level Meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region and of the Great Lakes Investment and Trade Conference due to the COIVD-19 pandemic, they encouraged Special Envoy Xia to actively engage the concerned Governments and partners in in the region to ensure their timely and successful organization. In that regard, they look forward to the presentation of his regional strategy.
Concerning the upcoming elections in Burundi, the members of the Security Council agreed on the importance of a peaceful, inclusive and credible electoral process as a further contribution to the region’s path towards political stability and peace.