EU Expresses Concern Over Escalation of Violence in Eastern DRC and Calls for Political Solutions

On 4 March 2024, the European Union (EU) issued a statement through its High Representative, voicing deep concerns over the escalating violence in the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This escalation has significantly deteriorated the humanitarian situation, exposing millions to severe human rights abuses, including displacement, deprivation, and gender-based violence. The military build-up, characterized by the deployment of advanced ground-to-air missiles and drones, particularly around Sake and Goma, marks a concerning escalation that threatens the stability of the region.

The EU reaffirmed its support for the Luanda and Nairobi processes, emphasizing that the crisis in the DRC cannot be resolved militarily but rather through political means. This involves an inclusive dialogue between the DRC and Rwanda to address the root causes of conflict, aiming to implement the decisions of regional peace initiatives and to respect the sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of all countries in the region. The statement highlights the necessity of implementing existing roadmaps and reactivating verification mechanisms to ensure compliance.

Furthermore, the EU condemned the recent offensive by the M23 rebel group and reiterated its condemnation of all armed groups’ actions in eastern DRC. These groups are urged to cease hostilities, vacate occupied areas, and disarm, in line with the resolutions of the Luanda and Nairobi processes. The EU also condemned Rwanda’s support for M23, including its military presence on Congolese territory, and called for an immediate withdrawal of Rwandan military forces and an end to any support for M23. Similarly, the EU urged the DRC and all regional actors to cease support and cooperation with the FDLR and other armed factions.

The statement underscores the importance of protecting civilians, adhering to international law, and ensuring unrestricted access for humanitarian aid to reach those in need promptly and unconditionally. The EU also condemned hate speech, xenophobia, and ethnic-based politics, calling on all political and civil society actors to engage in peace-oriented dialogue and avoid escalation.

The EU’s commitment to supporting peace, stabilization, and sustainable development in Eastern DRC and the broader region was reaffirmed. This commitment includes addressing the underlying causes of insecurity and instability, such as poor governance, corruption, lack of inclusive institutions, entrenched impunity, abuse of power, violent competition for resources, and the trafficking of natural resources through illicit networks.

Additionally, the EU condemned recent attacks and disinformation campaigns targeting EU Embassies and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), highlighting the legal responsibility of all states to protect the security of foreign citizens and the personnel and assets of diplomatic missions.

This statement from the EU marks a clear stance on the situation in the eastern DRC, advocating for a peaceful resolution through dialogue and cooperation, while condemning actions that undermine regional stability and the well-being of its people.