November 25, 2008 Arria Formula Meeting on the Situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Displacement and Humanitarian Response
Security Council Agenda Geographical Topic: 
Democratic Republic of the Congo

List of speakers

  • Chairman: H E Mr. Karel De Gucht, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium
  • H E Mr. Alan Doss, Special Representative of the Secretary General in the DRC
  • Mr. Charles Mampasy, Goma Emergency Humanitarian Coordinator, Oxfam (protection of civilians)
  • Ms. Alison DesForges, Special Advisor, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch (human rights violations and the fight against impunity)
  • Ms. Sue Mbaya, Director for Advocacy, Africa Region, World Vision (sexual and gender-based violence, recruitment of child soldiers and civil-military coordination)
  • Ms. Carina Tertsakian, Team Leader, DRC Campaign, Global Witness (illegal exploitation of natural resources)

Concept note

In recent weeks, the already dire humanitarian situation in Eastern DRC deteriorated even further into a new disaster. The DRC was already dealing with 1.5 million Internally Displaced Persons before the resumption of hostilities in North Kivu on a large scale on August 28. Since then, another 250,000 civilians have fled the fighting that led to indiscriminate attacks against civilians, sexual violence, recruitment of child soldiers and summary executions. Renewed violence in Ituri and the recent deadly attacks by the LRA in Oriental Province have equally gravely affected civilians.

On November 12, Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, who is personally involved in finding a solution to the crisis, warned that the situation is desperate, with 100,000 civilians trapped behind rebel lines in need of food. The World Health Organization is attempting to prevent and control an outbreak of cholera as the number of new cases has tripled to 150 a week. John Holmes has recently requested support from the international community for the humanitarian response in Eastern DRC. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in coordination with the humanitarian community in DRC, has launched a program of "Emergency Humanitarian Assistance to Eastern DRC." An important development in the fight against impunity for human rights violations is the additional investigation launched by the International Criminal Court concerning atrocities committed in Eastern DRC.

On the eve of the Security Council's discussion on the Secretary General's report on MONUC as well as the renewal of its mandate, Belgium and France want to draw attention to the gravity of the humanitarian situation in Eastern DRC. This could contribute to the discussion on how the Council could address the issue of a more effective protection of civilians. While acknowledging that MONUC is doing its utmost under difficult circumstances, more efforts are required from the international community to better protect civilians and provide humanitarian relief. The illegal exploitation of natural resources, especially for the financing of armed groups, is another issue that needs to be acted upon by the countries of the region and the international community.

The Arria-meeting, chaired by Mr. Karel De Gucht, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, offers an opportunity to focus on three issues which are directly relevant for the ongoing discussions in the Council, and are in line with the most recent report of the Secretary General:
-protection of civilians and the role of MONUC in this respect;
-human rights violations and the fight against impunity;
-illegal exploitation of natural resources as a means of financing armed groups.

See Attached PDFs for Additional Statements