Peace and Tranquility Calls

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Security Council Must Seize 'golden opportunity' for Stability in Great Lakes Region: UN Envoy

“The Great Lakes region is, more than ever before in recent history, resolutely committed to pursuing stability for itself”, Huang Xia said in his first briefing to the 15 ambassadors since being appointed in January.

Mr. Huang listed recent developments, including strengthened diplomatic engagement following the election of a new President in the Democratic Republic (DRC) last December.

The signing of an agreement aimed at easing tensions between Rwanda and Uganda, and regional cooperation to counter armed groups in the eastern DRC.

“There is a golden opportunity here before us to address the deep-rooted causes of the instability”, he said.

“We must seize that golden opportunity and build upon it to strengthen regional cooperation in order to allow the people of this particular part of the world to better tap the riches and wealth of their region.”

Regional challenges persist

Positive developments aside, the Great Lakes region continues to face numerous challenges.

Mr. Huang said local and foreign armed groups operating in the eastern DRC profit from illicit mining and trade in natural resources. Their activities also spur forced displacement of civilians.

All of this is taking place amidst an Ebola outbreak in the area, which has killed more than 2,000 people since August 2018.

The Congolese ambassador informed the Council that DRC President Félix Tshisekedi is “working tirelessly” to find a solution to end insecurity in the east.

Elsewhere, the ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire looked to upcoming elections in Burundi.

Désiré Wulfran G. Ipo encouraged stakeholders “to engage in a process of political dialogue and to pool their efforts in order to ensure that the elections to be held in 2020 will be inclusive, credible and peaceful.”

Development, Integration and jobs for Youth

The UN Special Envoy called for action to strengthen development programmes and accelerate integration among the nations of the vast Great Lakes region.

The international community should also support programmes that complement military responses against armed groups, such as disarmament, repatriation and reintegration processes, as well as cross-border employment projects targeting young people.

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Timothy Omondi