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The team of Special Envoys to the Great Lakes region of Africa is outraged and deeply concerned by a spate of civilian massacres that has taken place in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), particularly around the town of Beni, in North Kivu province. The latest of these gruesome attacks were carried out last week. Some 100 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed on 20 November, bringing the number of victims to more than 200 since mid-October.
The Special Envoys strongly condemn these massacres which have been attributed to the militia group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF and stress the fact that there should be no impunity for those responsible for human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in the region. They encourage the DRC government to engage a robust military action against this group with the support of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB).
The Envoys also call for similar action against all the other armed groups in the region, chief among them the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which have been under international pressure to dismantle by 2 January or face military action. The Envoys take note of the start of the voluntary relocation to Kisangani of some FDLR elements. They urge the FDLR to take advantage of the situation and to fully surrender and disarm as requested by the leaders of the region. Likewise, the group of Envoys recalls the urgency to complete the demobilization process of the former 23 March Movement (M23) combatants, in coordination with concerned regional states. The group of Envoys further calls on the DRC Government to accelerate the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, Repatriation, and Resettlement (DDRRR) programme for these ex-combatants and appeals to international partners to provide additional financial support to this programme.
A durable return of stability in eastern DRC and in the region will require a common approach with concerted efforts to neutralize all the negative forces. With this in mind, the Team of Envoys stresses the strategic importance of the Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework agreement for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region by calling on all the signatories to deliver on their commitments.
The Team of Envoys comprises the United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region Said Djinnit, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in the DRC Martin Kobler, the United States Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Russ Feingold, the African Union Special Representative for the Great Lakes region Boubacar Diarra, the European Union Senior Coordinator for the Great Lakes region Koen Vervaeke, and the Belgium Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Franck de Coninck.