Check against delivery
I would like to make three points, the first on regional cooperation.
We commend the encouraging signals of regional cooperation, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, we remain concerned about the negative impact of the pandemic on the health, socio-economic, humanitarian and human rights situation. Therefore, it is important to strengthen health infrastructure, to step up humanitarian efforts by the international community and to mitigate the negative socio-economic impact of the pandemic. Human rights violations, including sexual and gender-based violence, must stop. We encourage the region to seize the current momentum of collaboration in order to achieve further progress on regional economic integration and in the fight against the illegal exploitation of natural resources. There is an urgent need to address root causes, create jobs and tax revenue and reduce incentives for the use of violence, for armed groups and for criminal networks. Regional organizations such as the ICGLR [International Conference of the Great Lakes Region] and AU have an important role to play here.
My second point is on armed groups. We continue to be worried, especially in the Eastern part of the DRC, which continues to destabilize both the DRC and the entire region. We commend ongoing, increased regional efforts such as the exchanges among regional intelligence and security services or commitment to more security cooperation by Rwanda, Angola, the DRC and Uganda that has been reached at last week’s regional summit. It is important that the delayed tenth Summit of the Regional Oversight Mechanism take place without delay.
I would like to make a third remark on the situation in Burundi. We take note of some positive signals and gestures of the new Burundian government, which seems to be ready to normalize its relations with the region and the international community. But visible change is needed. The peaceful conduct of the elections forms a solid basis, yet more progress needs to be achieved.
Human rights and the difficult humanitarian situation are still a cause of great concern. The democratic spaces keep narrowing and we are worried about persistent human rights abuses. We hope to see improvements here. We also encourage the Burundian authorities and all parties involved to respect the principle of voluntary, safe and dignified return of refugees.
Let me close by expressing our hope that we will soon see a new peace and security strategy for the Great Lakes Region.