DRC: A delegation of representatives of permanent missions to the UN visits North Kivu
A delegation of representatives of permanent missions to the United Nations visited Goma, North Kivu, from February 11 to 13, 2021. Led by the Belgian diplomat Axel Kenes, the delegation included political directors from the Estonian and Irish ministries of foreign affairs accompanied by 'a representative of the Norwegian Embassy in Kinshasa.
In Goma, the delegation held several consultations with representatives of the international community, MONUSCO’s key sections, provincial authorities, security actors of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the civil society...It was in this context that the delegation had discussions with representatives from different women's structures in the North Kivu province.
During the meeting, women leaders stressed the need for a comprehensive and urgent action to reduce violence in the East, orchestrated by both armed groups and armed gangs. The women also highlighted the difficulties in combating widespread impunity for criminal acts perpetrated by armed groups, gang members and even members of the DRC's security forces. Furthermore, they sadly noted that the violence took the heaviest toll on women and children.
However, women were keen to demonstrate that they are not only victims of insecurity but that they remain catalysts for change. They expect a genuine commitment from the international community on the issue of peace in the provinces. Ms. Justine Masika, Chief of the Women Leaders Network in North Kivu says:
How can we talk about progress when we continue to receive reports about attacks, killings everywhere in the province. This is far too a serious problem. There is insecurity all over the place: Beni, Walikale, Rutshuru ... Yet, we do need peace”.
The head of the delegation praised the work done by these women. Axel Kenes pledged to work with dedication on the importance of gender, peace and security in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325.
The next day, Friday February 12, 2021, the delegation visited the territory of Rutshuru, mainly MONUSCO peacekeepers’ base in Kiwanja, where they met the head of MONUSCO Force Central Sector and held a conference at Rutshuru center.
The delegation met with the key local security actors, mainly the Territorial Administrator, FARDC (Armed Forces of the DRC), PNC (Congolese National Police), ANR (National Intelligence Agency) and DGM (General Directorate of Migration). The Security actors underscored the huge challenges of protecting civilians posed mainly by the various armed groups operating in the territory. They also raised the issue of the criminal kidnappings for ransom that is now rampant in the region. In Rutshuru, the delegation also met members of civil society and international actors present in the territory.
After leaving Rutshuru they headed southwards towards Goma; the delegation took the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the Virunga National Park (PNV) based in Rumangabo. The Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) manages the immense site of the Virunga National Park in North Kivu. ICCN leadership explained that Virunga National Park is threatened by armed groups through illegal exploitation of the park for the purposes of farming, fishing, charcoal production and other activities. ICCN noted that residents who live in the vicinity of the Park are seeking to escape poverty by exploiting the park, which results in frictions between ICCN and their neighbors. ICCN took the opportunity to highlight the successful development of a hydroelectric power station within the Virunga National Park which already employs some 800 residents.
"Incorporating everything we have learnt during this visit will help improve MONUSCO's mandate and ensure that the mandate is indeed at the service of the populations, to achieve a successful transition and a security stabilization as well as a better development of this part of the country. », said the head of the delegation.