Statement by Mr.Dmitry Polyansky, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on the sitiation in DR Congo
We welcome Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in her new role, and are grateful for her comprehensive briefing.
We hope that as the new Head of United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) she will be able to establish a constructive dialogue with the country’s authorities and enable the Mission to function more effectively.
I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Mr. Léonard She Okitundu, Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the Council. We hope that ensuring that the presidential elections scheduled for 23 December are held on time will help to reduce the tensions in society in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
We believe that for their part, the opposition forces should cooperate more actively with the Independent National Election Commission, recognize the proposed election dates and refrain from any violence. However, MONUSCO’s role in organizing and conducting the elections should not go beyond providing the national authorities with technical and logistical assistance.
In our view, the Mission’s main job is to improve the security situation. In that connection, we would like to draw attention to the recent increase in the activity of illegal armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which have been conducting systematic attacks on civilians, Government security forces and peacekeepers. Changes in that negative trend should be used as a chief indicator of the country’s stability.
We were alarmed to learn that after years of calm, clashes between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups in Ituri province in the country’s north-east have broken out again. We have taken note of MONUSCO’s decision to establish temporary bases in the area, strengthen patrols and continue consultations with the parties. The series of rebel attacks on peacekeepers at the end of last year and the overall security situation the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has led us to question the conclusions and proposals in the report on the Mission’s strategic review. Before extending the Mission’s mandate, we would like to see more attention paid to the following points.
The situation with the illegal armed groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is difficult and they are a very long way from being fully neutralized. The Mission’s mandated task of protecting civilians from the armed groups running rampant in the east continues to be strategically important, and we think it would be ill-advised to divert its attention from dealing with that to other issues.
We are puzzled by the Secretariat’s rationale for its proposal to end the Mission’s stabilization efforts and reduce its cooperation with Kinshasa in supporting camps for former combatants. It will be impossible to find a longterm solution to the problem of armed groups without restoring the Government entities in the east and settling the repatriation issue for former combatants. Besides that, the proposal for redeploying units of the Force Intervention Brigade is also unclear. According to the Secretariat, they should be evenly distributed among the four sectors of responsibility throughout the country. The Secretary-General’s most recent report (S/2018/174) mentions the Brigade only once.
And yet in yesterday’s meeting with troop-contributing countries (see S/PV.8196), we were surprised to learn of the lack of joint operations with Kinshasa against the illegal armed groups. It is regrettable that some of the proposals of the strategic review are already being implemented without the authorization of the Security Council. In that regard, we would like to mention the concept of protecting civilians through the projection of force.
We do not rule out the fact that its implementation could lead to complications in communication within the Mission and therefore, unfortunately, to a recurrence of the December incident in Semuliki. Achieving tangible results from new concepts takes time, as was the case with the so-called rapid deployment battalions. We recall that they became operational only three years after that concept was approved.
Finally, we draw attention to the need to adopt additional measures to ensure the security of peacekeepers. Like many of our colleagues, we are not satisfied with the information provided in the report of the Secretary-General regarding the pace of the investigations into the Semuliki incident.
With regard to the mandate, it is necessary to discuss an entire range of difficult issues. For us, it is already clear that last year’s reconfiguration of the Mission’s strategic tasks neither improved its effectiveness nor helped the situation in the country.