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Thursday, 17 December 2009 - Strasbourg
Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2009 on violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Council conclusions on European Security and Defence Policy of 17 November 2009,

–   having regard to the interim and final reports (S/2009/253 and S/2009/603) of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo ('the Group of Experts') established pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolution 1771 (2007) and extended pursuant to resolutions 1807 (2008) and 1857 (2008), and the recommendations contained therein,

–   having regard to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly resolution of 22 November 2007 on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in particular in the East of the country, and its impact on the region(1),

–   having regard to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/1 of 24 October 2005 on the 2005 World Summit Outcome, and in particular paragraphs 138 to 140 thereof on the responsibility to protect populations,

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2008 on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and rape as a war crime(2),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 27 October 2009 on the Great Lakes region,

–   having regard to the Council declaration of 10 October 2008 on the situation in the east of the DRC,

–   having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1856 (2008) of 22 December 2008 on the situation concerning the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which specifies the mandate of the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC),

–   having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the war and unrest in the east of the DRC has resulted in widespread killings, population displacement and sexual violence against women, committed by armed rebel groups and by government army and police forces, which have reached an alarming scale,

B.   whereas the conflict affecting the DRC has claimed the lives of 5 400 000 people since 1998 and is still causing, either directly or indirectly, as many as 45 000 deaths every month(3); whereas according to the UNHCR reports there are some 1 460 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the DRC, with 980 000 in North Kivu(4),

C.   whereas MONUC has been in the DRC since 1999 to protect the civilian population, build the peace process in the country and help the government to re-establish control over the regions which are under fighting factions,

D.   whereas MONUC is the world's largest peacekeeping mission, with a total of 20 000 soldiers, present mainly in North and South Kivu, costing about USD 1,4 billion a year, with a mandate to use all the necessary means to deter any attempted use of force, by any foreign or Congolese armed group, that threatens the political process, and to ensure the protection of civilians under imminent threat of physical violence,

E.   whereas the illegal mineral trade in the DRC allows many actors to continue to buy minerals from areas controlled by rebel groups, thereby financing those rebel groups, and whereas this is a factor fuelling and exacerbating the conflict,

F.   whereas it appears that DRC troops and fighters belonging to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) are reported to be involved in criminal networks exploiting and selling gold and minerals for guns in the east of the DRC,

G.   whereas rape has become a weapon of war used by rebels, members of the Congolese army and civilians,

H.   whereas military operations since January 2009, including Operation Kimia II, have resulted in the disarmament of 1 243 FDLR combatants out of an estimated 6 000 although the FDLR is continuing to recruit and retains a vast, sophisticated network of political and financial supporters in the region and around the world(5),

I.   whereas recent military operations have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, leading to widespread massacres and human rights abuses,

J.   whereas the fighting between the Congolese army, the rebel troops of ousted General Laurent Nkunda, the FDLR fighters and the troops of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continue to cause the civilian populations of the eastern provinces of the DRC unbearable hardship,

K.   whereas the Congolese army continues to have insufficient human, technical and financial resources to carry out its tasks in the eastern provinces of the DRC, coupled with a lack of discipline amongst its ranks, which continues to hamper its role in protecting the population and in re-establishing peace,

L.   whereas the United Nations has recently suspended logistical assistance and operational support to certain units of the Congolese army amid allegations that its troops killed dozens of civilians, including women and children in the North Kivu district, between May and September 2009,

M.   whereas several humanitarian organisations have been forced to suspend their activities, and aid workers in North Kivu are unable to reach 70 %, if not more, of those in need,

1.  Deplores in the strongest possible terms the massacres, the crimes against humanity, the recruitment of child soldiers and the acts of sexual violence against women and girls which are still taking place; calls on all actors to step up the fight against impunity;

2.  Calls for an immediate end to the violence and human rights abuses in the DRC; stresses the need for further efforts to put an end to the activities of foreign armed groups in the east of the DRC, in particular the FDLR and LRA; calls for these groups immediately to lay down their arms and cease their attacks against the civilian population, and for all the parties to the 23 March 2009 agreements to respect the ceasefire and implement their commitments effectively and in good faith;

3.  Remains extremely concerned by the worsening humanitarian situation in eastern DRC, following the atrocities carried out against the local population, as highlighted by two recent reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; is concerned, in particular, by recent reports of deliberate killings by Congolese soldiers of at least 270 civilians in the towns of Nyabiondo and Pinga, in North Kivu, and recent fighting, which has driven 21 800 people from their homes in and around Dongo, in the west; reaffirms that swift action is necessary to prevent a new humanitarian catastrophe unfolding;

4.  Draws attention to MONUC's vital role and to the fact that its mandate and rules of engagement must be implemented with determination and on a permanent basis in order to guarantee the population's security more effectively and without in any way supporting Congolese units which fail to respect human rights;

5.  Recognises that MONUC's presence remains necessary and calls for every effort to be made to allow it to carry out its mandate in full in order to protect those under threat; calls on the Council, in this connection, to play a leading role in ensuring that the United Nations Security Council supports MONUC in its operational capacities, providing a better definition of its priorities, of which there are currently 41;

6.  Welcomes the arrest by the German authorities of Ignace Murwanashyaka, leader of the FDLR, and his deputy, Straton Musoni, which constitutes an important step towards addressing impunity;

7.  Stresses that the rehabilitation and reform of the judicial system (incorporating a prevention and protection dimension and combating impunity with regard to sexual violence) and assistance for and reintegration of victims should be central to the aid programmes to be funded; in this context, calls for the cases of mass rape in the east of the DRC to be referred to the International Criminal Court;

8.  Stresses the need to bring to justice the perpetrators of human rights abuses within the Congolese armed forces, and underlines MONUC's crucial role in doing this; welcomes, therefore, the zero tolerance policy promoted by President Kabila against sexual violence and misconduct in the armed forces and encourages the Government of the DRC to implement without delay and with the assistance of MONUC its new strategy against gender-based violence;

9.  Underlines the importance of EUSEC RD Congo's key tasks of providing advice and assistance for defence reform with the aim of implementing the Congolese revised reform plan for the Congolese armed forces (FARDC); calls on the Congolese authorities, therefore, to take the reform process forward, encourages the establishment of a coordination mechanism for defence reform under Congolese ownership, with appropriate support from EUSEC and encourages the building of military barracks and camps as a matter of urgency;

10.  Recommends that the Government of the DRC promote stockpile security, accountability and management of arms and ammunition as an urgent priority, and that it implement a national weapons marking programme in line with the standards established by the Nairobi Protocol and the Regional Centre on Small Arms;

11.  Welcomes the progress made in the region by improved bilateral diplomatic relations between the DRC and Rwanda; calls on the DRC and Rwanda to fully implement the Nairobi and Goma peace agreements, as well as the Ihusi agreement of 23 March 2009;

12.  Encourages all governments of the Great Lakes region and the international community to continue the existing dialogue with the aim of coordinating efforts to stop the violence in the eastern parts of the DRC, paying particular attention to reconciliation, human security, better judicial accountability, and refugee and IDP return and integration;

13.  Deplores the increasing acts of violence against aid workers, which is having serious repercussions for the humanitarian situation on the ground; urges the authorities to launch thorough investigations into each and every incident and calls for protection to be immediately stepped up;

14.  Stresses the need for continued and increased funding in humanitarian aid to eastern DRC, given the increasing number of internally displaced persons and deteriorating conditions; to this end, supports the appeal launched on 30 November 2009 by the UN, alongside 380 aid organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to raise USD 7,1 billion for humanitarian work in 2010; urges all Member States to contribute their fair share;

15.  Remains concerned by the illegal trade in minerals and other natural resources in the east of the DRC by the rebel groups; calls on the Council and the Commission to insist, in talks with the governments of the DRC and neighbouring countries, on the implementation of effective systems of traceability and proof of origin of natural resources, and to step up the fight against corruption;

16.  Calls for a return to the dialogue which saw the creation of the Amani Programme for security, pacification, stabilisation and reconstruction of North and South Kivu;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the institutions of the African Union, the United Nations Secretary-General, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and the governments and parliaments of the countries of the Great Lakes region.

(1) OJ C 58, 1.3.2008, p. 40.
(2) OJ C 41 E, 19.2.2009, p. 83.

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