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 Madam President,


1.   I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the members of the A3+, namely Algeria, Guyana, Mozambique and my own country Sierra Leone.


2.   We wish to thank Mrs. Bintou Keita, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Head of MONUSCO, for the important briefing she has just made on the worrisome developments in the country. We acknowledge her diligent efforts once more.


3.   We welcome the presence, in this meeting, of the Permanent Representatives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Rwanda.


Madam President,


4.   It is with deep concern that we have been following the deteriorating situation in Eastern DRC, particularly in Sake and Goma, North Kivu Province, where the already dire security and humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by the recent escalation of clashes. The potential impact of these tragic events extends beyond the immediate region and must not be overlooked.


5.   This happens in a context where the MONUSCO disengagement plan is underway. We hope that effective measures are taken to avoid a security vacuum and, consequently, the advancement by armed groups such as the M23, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). 


6.   It is against this backdrop that we condemn, in the strongest terms, the actions of all armed groups operating in the DRC. We urge them to refrain from actions contributing to the escalation of the situation on the ground, including the resurgence of ethnic confrontation and risk of a regional conflict.


7.   We urge all armed groups to immediately cease hostilities and withdraw from all occupied areas, as agreed upon in the EAC-led Nairobi and Angola-led Luanda processes. We condemn any support by any external party to any armed groups contributing to hostilities and unrest in the DRC, and we further request for the cessation of such support.


8.   More importantly, we call on the parties to comply with these important processes, which remain credible regional political initiatives, aimed at resolving the conflict in the Eastern DRC.


9.   It is crucial to recognize that military interventions alone will not lead to a comprehensive resolution of the conflict. While they can be both useful and necessary in certain circumstances, in particular to protect civilians, addressing the underlying and root causes is crucial to achieving lasting peace.


10.                We firmly believe that investing in dialogue, diplomacy, and understanding the root issues driving the crisis in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is essential. By engaging in open conversations, involving all relevant stakeholders, and seeking common ground, we can work towards a more sustainable and holistic solution.


11.                We also strongly condemn the attack on MONUSCO staff and property in the capital of Kinshasa and call on the Congolese Authorities to ensure that all those responsible for influencing such actions are held accountable.

Madam President,


12.                We are deeply concerned over the reports of bombs falling on civilian areas in Sake and Goma. It is estimated that 65,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are sheltering in these areas. This is absolutely unacceptable.


13.                Furthermore, there is a reported displacement of an estimated 135,000 people from the town of Sake towards Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu. Already limited resources must now be further stretched to accommodate displaced people across North Kivu.


14.                These incidents of internal displacement exacerbate the already precarious situation in the DRC - the country with the highest number of internally displaced persons in Africa.


15.                Additionally, the A3+ is deeply troubled by a UNICEF report according to which children in the DRC have been killed, injured, abducted, and face sexual violence in conflict at record levels for the third consecutive year in 2023. This violence is unacceptable. We call on all parties to the conflict to take measures to prevent and end all grave violations against children.


16.                Like in any other conflict, it is the many innocent civilians who bear the brunt. Our solidarity goes to the men, women and children who continue to suffer from the humanitarian impact of the confrontations, thus adding to an already dire situation.


17.                In this connection, the A3+ echoes the UNHCR in calling on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians, fulfil their obligations under international humanitarian law and establish safe corridors for aid. We further reiterate the call for the international donors to mobilize to respond to the immense humanitarian needs in the DRC.


18.                We highly commend the tireless efforts of the humanitarian workers who despite the difficult conditions and security challenges continue to provide much needed aid, including clean water, healthcare, and basic necessities to displaced people in North and South Kivu.


Madam President,


19.                We take note of the deployment of the SADC Regional Force to Eastern DRC. We hope that their support to the Congolese national army will positively contribute to the stabilization of the situation, by preventing the advancement of all armed groups operating in the region.


20.                We seize this opportunity to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and Government of the Republic of South Africa, for the untimely demise of two brave military officers, at the noble service of SADC Mission in DRC (SAMIDRC).


21.                As we conclude, Madam President, the A3+ reiterates its full support to the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the DRC. We underscore the need for strong and decisive actions at all levels to improve the security and humanitarian situation in the DRC.


22.                Let us strive for a future where peace prevails over conflict, unity in diversity, in line with the African Union position. The A3+ hopes for a swift political resolution of the conflict, and for the safety and well-being of affected communities to be prioritized.


I thank you, Madam President!

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