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UN envoy sees stability in Africa’s Great Lakes region

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) — The UN secretary-general’s special envoy for the Great Lakes region, Xia Huang, said Tuesday that the situation in the region remained stable despite security challenges.

The overall situation in the Great Lakes region has remained stable with encouraging progress in recent months, despite persistent challenges, he told the Security Council in a briefing.

On the political side, he noted the peaceful transfer of power in Burundi following the general elections in May 2020, and the return of Burundian refugees from Rwanda and Tanzania, as well as the visit of the foreign minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Bujumbura on Oct. 4-5.

He also welcomed the Oct. 7 mini-summit convened by DRC President Felix Tshisekedi with the leaders of Angola, Rwanda and Uganda in order to discuss important issues relating to security and economic cooperation.

“This initiative points to a sustained commitment of the leaders of the region toward joint efforts, which, I hope, will be able to be strengthened during the upcoming regional follow-up of the mechanism for the (peace, security and cooperation) framework agreement,” he said, referring to a regional agreement signed in 2013.

Xia also welcomed the fact that the countries of the region are using diplomatic means and regional mechanisms to resolve their differences, as demonstrated by the resolving of the border dispute between the DRC and Zambia, and the commitment of Rwanda and Uganda to pursue the normalization of relations through the good offices of Angola and the DRC.

However, the security and humanitarian situation in the east of the DRC remains of concern, he said.

Sporadic cross-border incidents involving armed groups operating in the east of the DRC continue to be the cause of intolerable human suffering. The impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the crimes traumatizes the populations and negatively affects relations between these countries, he said. “We must, therefore, strengthen our efforts to fight impunity.”

Xia said the high-level political commitment as well as adequate resources are indispensable in order to improve the regional security environment. Given the worrying economic impact of COVID-19, it will also be essential to intensify efforts for economic cooperation around the cross-border projects, and shared management of natural resources.

“Despite the outstanding challenges and the pandemic, the peoples and countries of the Great Lakes Region continue to show great resilience and determination to move forward. I call on the Security Council to remain engaged and to provide support for the region in a sustained manner,” he said. Enditem

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