UN / GREAT LAKES REGION

20-Oct-2021 00:02:17
UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region Huang Xia highlighted to the Security Council the necessity to “sustainably build on these accomplishments while firmly addressing the challenges that persist” in the region. UNIFEED
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STORY: UN / GREAT LAKES REGION
TRT: 2:17
SOURCE: UNIFEED
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / FRENCH / NATS

DATELINE: 20 OCTOBER 2021, NEW YORK CITY
SHOTLIST
FILE – NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UN headquarters exterior

20 OCTOBER 2021, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, Security Council
3. SOUNDBITE (French) Huang Xia, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region, United Nations:
“This violence continues to have serious consequences for the already fragile humanitarian situation, as well as on the socio-economic stability of the affected areas. These negative forces also remain involved in exploitation and illicit trade of natural resources whose revenues finance their supply of weapons and their recruitments.”
4. Wide shot, Security Council
5. SOUNDBITE (French) Huang Xia, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region, United Nations:
“Now more than ever, it is necessary to sustainably build on these accomplishments while firmly addressing the challenges that persist. The success of such an approach involves drawing lessons of the past and showing imagination to support the populations of the Great Lakes region in building a better present and future.”
6. Wide shot, Security Council
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operation, United Nations:
“Addressing the various challenges of the countries in the Great Lakes region requires a comprehensive approach rooted in enhanced political engagement, encompassing military and non-military interventions, fostering economic cooperation across the borders, and building trust between neighbours and among communities.”
8. Wide shot, Pobee and Xia at the Council
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operation, United Nations:
“A comprehensive and coordinated regional approach to disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration will also be an important tool to create incentives for former combatants not to re-join the ranks of armed groups while excluding the possibility for the later to automatically join the armed forces, prevent the recruitment of youth in vulnerable communities and curb the illicit flows of weapons in the region.”
10. Wide shot, Security Council
STORYLINE
UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region Huang Xia highlighted to the Security Council the necessity to “sustainably build on these accomplishments while firmly addressing the challenges that persist” in the region.

In his address to the Council today (20 Oct), Xia said the Great Lakes region has witnessed a boost to bilateral relations resulting in the revitalization cooperation frameworks in various fields including security, trade, infrastructure, transport, natural resources, and energy.

He welcomed the progress made in the area of security cooperation with the goal of combating armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The Special Envoy said the launching of the Contact and Coordination Group, which provides non-military incentives for armed groups to disarm, is also an important aspect of these efforts at the regional level.

Despite these advances, Xia said challenges remain. He said continued activities by armed groups remain the main threat to peace and stability in the region, with an upsurge in attacks, including by the ADF in the eastern DRC or those launched by the RED-Tabara against Bujumbura airport in September.

Xia said, “This violence continues to have serious consequences for the already fragile humanitarian situation, as well as on the socio-economic stability of the affected areas. These negative forces also remain involved in exploitation and illicit trade of natural resources whose revenues finance their supply of weapons and their recruitments.”

The Special Envoy said the COVID-19 pandemic has also, to some extent, exacerbated pre-existing socio-economic weaknesses. According to the World Health Organization, only 36 million doses of vaccine have been administered to date in the region, which has a population of nearly 450 million.

Xia reiterated the appeal made by UN chief Antonio Guterres for more solidarity with developing countries, in order to facilitate access to vaccines and strengthen existing health systems and structures.

The Special Envoy stressed that responding effectively to the challenges of the region, while supporting the positive efforts underway, will require a concerted approach by the States of the region, civil society, regional organizations, international partners, and the United Nations.

He welcomed the upcoming important Summit meetings, in particular the commitment by DRC to host the 10th Summit of the Regional Monitoring Mechanism of the Framework Agreement in Kinshasa next December. He said the Summit will be an opportunity for the leaders of the region to measure together the progress made since the last Kampala Summit in 2018, to see how to consolidate recent achievements and provide guidance on the measures to be taken to more stability and more development in the region.

Xia said the Great Lakes region is at a crossroads. He added, “Now more than ever, it is necessary to sustainably build on these accomplishments while firmly addressing the challenges that persist. The success of such an approach involves drawing lessons of the past and showing imagination to support the populations of the Great Lakes region in building a better present and future.”

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Africa Martha Pobee said the UN has taken steps to reconfigure its presence in the region to best address the remaining challenges to peace and security, especially in the eastern DRC. She said persistent insecurity in the eastern DRC remains one of the main challenges facing the region today.

Pobee said national and foreign armed groups continue to operate and carrying out deadly attacks against civilians, further deteriorating the already dire humanitarian situation. She noted that in 2021, at least 1043 civilians have been killed, including 233 women and 52 children.

The Assistant Secretary-General said insecurity in the eastern DRC sheds a light on the underlying causes of the conflicts in the region ranging from the presence of foreign armed groups, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, land and border disputes, intercommunal tensions, limited state presence in remote areas, to persistent inequalities due to marginalization, exclusion, youth unemployment, and poverty.

She said, “Addressing the various challenges of the countries in the Great Lakes region requires a comprehensive approach rooted in enhanced political engagement, encompassing military and non-military interventions, fostering economic cooperation across the borders, and building trust between neighbours and among communities.”

Pobee said she was encouraged by the improvements in bilateral relations between neighbouring countries, which create a momentum for the evaluation and revitalization of the peace, security, and cooperation framework to refocus efforts to support the member states of the region.

She said governments in the region continue to prioritize military operations as part of their efforts to address the threat posed by armed groups in the eastern DRC.

Pobee reminded that military operations should be conducted with strict compliance with a human rights due diligence policy and ensure civilian harm mitigation to avoid the suffering of the population aimed to be protected.

The Assistant Secretary-General welcomed the adoption of a three-year action plan of the contact and coordination group aimed at neutralizing the negative forces through a non-military approach. She said MONUSCO and the office of the Special Envoy would continue to provide support for the operationalization of the group through the establishment of an operational cell which will be hosted in Goma.

She said, “A comprehensive and coordinated regional approach to disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration will also be an important tool to create incentives for former combatants not to re-join the ranks of armed groups while excluding the possibility for the later to automatically join the armed forces, prevent the recruitment of youth in vulnerable communities and curb the illicit flows of weapons in the region.”

Pobee commended Congolese authorities for their commitment to provide adequate resources for the functioning of the disarmament, demobilization, community recovery and stabilization programme that was recently established. She called on international partners and donors to support these efforts, while ensuring that the participating member states remain committed to and in charge of this process.
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