By Catherine Ageno
The United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region, has appealed to the international community for increased support in resolving the escalating hostilities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the mounting tension in the wider Great Lakes region.
Speaking before the Security Council, on Tuesday, Huang Xia expressed deep concern over the worsening security situation and potential for a direct conflict between the DRC and Rwanda, who have accused each other of supporting armed groups within each other’s territory.
His comments also come amid growing security concerns over a spate of attacks by suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels who have their bases in the DRC jungles, on civilians in Western Uganda near the border with Congo.
The latest is at attack on Tuesday night by suspected terrorists on tourists who were travelling on the Katunguru –Mweya Katwe Road in Queen Elizabeth National Park, in Uganda’s Kasese District.
The horrific attack comes days after President Museveni issued a security update indicating that Ugandan fighter bombs had hit four ADF targets inside the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On Friday last week, a group of about five suspected ADF individuals torched a Mercedes Benz vehicle killing two people and injuring one.
This is the third time suspected ADF terrorists have crossed in Kasese since the tragic June 16th raid on Mpondwe-Lhubiriha Secondary School in which 38 students and six locals were hacked to death and set ablaze.
In his address to the Council, Mr. Xia highlighted the resurgence of large-scale hostilities in the restive eastern DRC alongside the worsening relationship between the DRC and Rwanda.
“The military build-up of the two countries, the absence of direct high-level dialogue, and the persistence of hate speech are all worrying signs that we cannot ignore,” Mr. Xia emphasized.
The humanitarian situation in eastern DRC is equally dire, with a growing number of displaced people sounding alarm bells.
The UN envoy urged the international community to provide more substantial humanitarian assistance and facilitate the return of displaced people to their homes, underlining the importance of education for children as essential for the region’s future.
Xia has undertaken efforts to promote peace in the region by visiting several countries, including Angola, Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda, aiming to build trust and mobilize partners for a peaceful solution to the region’s challenges.
According to UN News, he stressed the importance of revitalizing the 2013 Addis Ababa Framework Agreement, which lays the groundwork for peace and security in the region.
In conclusion, Mr. Xia stressed the need to prioritize diplomacy and ongoing dialogue for a comprehensive solution to the challenges facing the Great Lakes region, asserting that military solutions alone would not be sufficient to establish lasting peace.
He added that the situation in the Great Lakes region remains highly volatile, and international support and cooperation are essential to prevent further escalation and pave the way for peace, stability, and prosperity.