Press Release to the Demonstrations in Eastern DRCongo: We should all make a consensus about our priorities

Press Release on the current situation in North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo during these demonstrations against the UN Mission: We should all work together to harmonize our convictions and our objectives between the Congolese people, the Congolese Government and the International Community.

In order to respond to the requirement of dignity and respect, we cannot boast ourselves for our humanitarian responses towards the victims in camps, however we should rejoice for preventing people for not being victims and preventing them from not running away from their homes in their villages.

After carefully reading the press release from Foreign Missions accredited in D.R.Congo made public on their Facebook Pages and the Congolese Episcopal Conference (CENCO) through video on whatsup all done yesterday Friday April 9th, 2021, the press conference of various Congolese authorities, statements from “les Mouvements Citoyens” who are the main organizers of these demonstrations and actors of the Civil Society, we are highly perplexed and lost on what is common to all of us. We may not be effective in fighting the armed groups when we remain divided and everyone defends their positions and interests. “The peace we are looking for is first of all a consensus and the inclusion of all”.

The security situation in Beni and in many parts in the east of D.R.Congo is worrying and is a serious concern to all of us and yet two main actors own us answers: The current government and the United Nations Mission in D.R.Congo are responsible for our security and should be hold accountable in order to respond to the requirement of a democratic society. The images of daily brutal killings of innocent people in Beni cannot leave us indifferent and have severe consequences to our psychological inner part of our lives and should be at the center of all our preoccupation rather than a diversion to blame the reactions of such victims which should be expected in such a situation.

The Diplomatic Missions accredited in D.R.Congo press statement might not have taken into consideration the current mind situation of people in Beni and do all what it takes to avoid opportunities which may lead people to demonstrations through constructive dialogues in order to build consensus. We all knew that people will demonstrate, we all know that people are not psychologically stable and have suffered for long now, and we all knew that in the current situation there was risks of violence, but we decided to do nothing apart from praising our “good works” which irritates people.

More than 3millions Congolese are estimated living in neighboring countries as refugees because of these wars and failing to end violence in eastern parts of Congo is to pronounce a sentence to all these people to remain in exile at the mercy of humanitarian actors who claim offering them services rather than empowering them to get involved in peace activities in their country, more than 5millions of Congolese are living in Internally Displaced Camps and failing to provide them security in their home villages is to pronounce a sentence against all these people to remain in Internally Displaced Camps at the mercy of humanitarian actors, in all these interventions we have observed tensions between the priorities of humanitarian actors and the priorities of the Congolese people, it is estimated that more than 10millions of Congolese have died during the wars since 1996 up to now, failing to protect all these people is a death sentence against them, and on top of that more than 87% of the Congolese people live in extreme poverty and without future.

We continue observing the deliberate move to separate peace from development as many actors are arguing “we cannot talk about Development if there is no peace”. Let us bring to the attention of all actors that “there is no peace without development and there is no development without the respect of human rights.

The desire of the Congolese people to live in peace has been betrayed by their own government and compromised by the United Nations Mission which is mandated to protect people in D.R.Congo. Instead of deploying all efforts to end violence as quick as possible we seem to observe various excuses tending to brainwash our minds on how “complicated and complex the situation is and that it needs time, but how long?” and more efforts being done to nurse the consequences of violence through “humanitarian actions responses” which are highly appreciated and recommended as “lives serving activities” by the International Community and the Development Partners in their Press Release yesterday, yet nothing much is being said or planned at the prevention level where we would like to see more energies being deployed.

Basing on the current violent demonstrations in North Kivu, we recommend the following:

1. That the Congolese Government, the United Nations Mission, the Development Partners and Humanitarian Actors do consider and make as priority the legitimate demand of the Congolese people to end violence as the major priority that surpasses the urgency of humanitarian response activities,

2. We urge the Congolese Security Services to immediately to put to end acts of violence against demonstrators and hold accountable officers who are involved in the killings of innocent people. Nothing can justice the use of live bullets against demonstrators who we believe were non-violent based on images we received,

3. That UN Mission in D.R.Congo invest much in information gathering especially when demonstrations are planned in order to ensure effective preventive actions, and make prevention a priority than reactions,

4. That all actors including Congolese people, the government, the UN Mission and the Development partners engage in various discussions and dialogues in order to harmonize on key priorities and which should come first through a clear roadmap,

5. We urge all actors to prioritize funding to activities which aim a Civic Education and non-violence mechanisms in order to claim for human rights in D.R.Congo, which will believe will reduce actions which are described as “violent” by various leaders,

6. We urge upon the United Nations Mission in D.R.Congo which is the main target currently to charge her Communication Strategy and adapt it to the current reality. The excuses of supporting the Congolese Army and not to substitute the national Army and the UN Mission policy based on reaction rather than prevention seem to be inconsistent with the UN Mission in D.R.Congo and the expectations of the Congolese people about the UN Mission,

7. We urge both the Government and the UN Mission in D.R.Congo to invest more in intelligence services in order to end the wars quickly, because the way rebels operates indicates the failure of intelligence gathering information at the local levels,

8. We urge the Congolese people to remain mobilize, pursues their legitimate and sovereign demand to live in peace through non-violent mechanisms and focus more efforts to hold the leaders accountable at various levels,

9. The UN Mission in DRCongo should clear either declare her failure or clearly manage the situation and end violence,

10. Both the Government in D.R.Congo and the International Community should put in place mechanisms to empower Congolese people in order to hold the UN Mission accountable,

Done in Goma, North Kivu/ the Democratic Republic of Congo

Saturday April 10th, 2021.

Jackson Baguma Ntamuzinda

Regional Coordinator

Global Refugee Leaders Forum/ Humanite Plus