Thank you, Mr. President.

First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for her briefing and for all MONUSCOs important contributions. I welcome the participation of the Permanent Representatives of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Burundi.

We thank the Democratic Republic of the Congo for its reception during the visit of the Security Council. The exchanges with the authorities, MONUSCO and civil society enabled the Council to gain a better understanding of the issues involved in promoting peace and security in the region. We reiterate our full solidarity with the Congolese people.

Allow me to emphasize three points:

First, the deteriorating security, humanitarian and human rights situation in eastern DRC is concerning. Since November 2021, the renewed M23 offensive has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, intensifying the already disastrous humanitarian crisis. Attacks on civilian populations and infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, and IDP sites, by the M23 and other armed groups are unacceptable. Furthermore, we are concerned about the use and massive recruitment of children by various armed groups. In this context, we call on all parties to respect international law and to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to those in need. We recall that the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians lies with the government. Switzerland encourages the DRC to continue its collaboration with MONUSCO to ensure an environment conducive to the implementation of its mandate and to address misinformation directed against the mission.

Second, only a coordinated political solution can contribute to the consolidation of peace. We welcome diplomatic efforts at the national and regional levels to address the root causes of the conflict. In particular, we express our support for the Nairobi and Luanda processes. Any military action, including the deployment of the East African Regional Force, must be undertaken within the framework of the ongoing political processes and aim at ensuring armed groups lay down their arms. We encourage the government to continue to put in place the necessary conditions to allow for the operationalization of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Rehabilitation and Stabilization Program. In addition, all parties must immediately end their collaboration with armed groups. We call on Rwanda to cease all support to the M23. We also call for the support provided to armed groups by certain FARDC elements to cease.

Third, the rule of law and the fight against impunity must be reinforced. The high level of sexual violence linked to the conflict cannot continue to be ignored. We are also concerned about inter-communal violence and the spread of hate speech, particularly against Rwandophone populations. It is essential that the government ensures accountability and restores trust between communities and with the state. As elections approach, we encourage the authorities to protect civic space and ensure inclusive democratic processes, including with the opposition. Finally, we welcome President Tshisekedi's statement on International Women's Rights Day calling for an egalitarian society. As such, we hope that women candidates and voters will be able to fully participate in the upcoming electoral process.

Mr. President,

Switzerland is committed to achieving lasting peace in the DRC. Our presence in Kinshasa and especially in the East, including through our cooperation offices in Bukavu and Goma, allows us to be as close as possible to the people and their needs. Next month, the President of the Swiss Confederation is expected to visit the DRC, including to express his support for the ongoing peace efforts.

As the violence continues, there is an urgent need for a lasting solution. As a member of the Security Council, Switzerland will strive to build bridges, support humanitarian and development efforts and contribute to the consolidation of peace in the DRC.

Thank you.

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