Kinshasa, February 9, 2024- Belgium has expressed deep concern over the escalating violence in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This statement was made through an official communiqué released by the Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister on the embassy’s website in the DRC. The resurgence of violence adds to the already dire situation faced by civilians in the eastern part of the country, plagued by the atrocities committed by numerous armed groups. Belgium’s stance is clear: this violence must end, and the country also condemns any attacks against MONUSCO, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the region.
The violence in North Kivu has caused immense suffering, leading to over 5.5 million internally displaced persons within the eastern DRC, with 2.5 million in North Kivu alone. Human rights violations are rampant, and Belgium remains committed to providing humanitarian assistance to the Congolese population. The international community has observed the detrimental impact of the violence, highlighting the urgent need for a cessation of hostilities by armed groups. There is a specific call for Rwanda to end its support of the M23 rebel group, which has been a significant factor in the region’s instability. Furthermore, the DRC’s government has made significant announcements regarding the collaboration of its armed forces with the FDLR armed group, an alliance that must cease to foster peace and stability in the area.
Belgium advocates for a non-military solution to the conflict, emphasizing the importance of diplomatic efforts within regional processes and constructive engagement with efforts led by the United States. Addressing the root causes of the conflict is seen as essential for the long-term prosperity and well-being of the population. During its presidency of the European Union and beyond, Belgium commits to working towards peace and security for the people of eastern DRC and the Great Lakes Region.
This announcement comes amid a tense atmosphere in Kinshasa, with several demonstrations outside Western embassies. Protesters accuse Western countries of inaction against the M23 rebels, allegedly supported by Rwanda—a claim supported by United Nations experts and most Western nations. Some demonstrators have even accused these countries of participating in an international conspiracy against the DRC. Despite these accusations, there have yet to be protests in front of the Belgian embassy in Kinshasa.