Madame President

I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bintou Keita, for her presentation and for all the work done by MONUSCO under difficult circumstances. I welcome the presence of the representatives of the DRC and Rwanda at this meeting.

The escalation of violence and the humanitarian situation in North Kivu are alarming. The resumption of clashes between the FARDC and the M23 are adding to the tensions in the Great Lakes region. They are leading to a general destabilisation both within and beyond the borders of the DRC. Switzerland condemns the M23 offensive in and around Saké and calls the M23 to cease its operations immediately and withdraw from the occupied zones as agreed in the Luanda roadmap. We express our full support for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the DRC.

In the space of a few days, more than a hundred thousand people have been displaced, intensifying the already dramatic humanitarian crisis. This situation is exacerbated by the massive displacements linked to human rights violations by all parties, inter-community violence and the spread of hate speech, particularly against Rwandophone populations. Guarantees of unhindered access and protection for humanitarian actors are essential.

Madame President

This new escalation of violence, directly or indirectly affecting the civilian population, must end. In this context, the proliferation and use of new military means in the fighting in North Kivu, such as combat drones and mobile air defence systems, is worrying. We recall that all parties have an obligation to respect international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution.

We condemn the direct attacks against MONUSCO, including those against civilian personnel. Under these conditions, the Mission's peacekeepers cannot effectively protect the civilian population. In this respect, we are concerned by reports of attacks by multiple actors, including Wazalendos, on MONUSCO positions in the Saké region. In this regard, we recall the responsibilities of the host state to bring the perpetrators of such acts to justice, in accordance with Resolution 2589 of this Council.

Madame President

Only a political solution negotiated and agreed with all parties can lead to a lasting peace. Diplomatic efforts at the national, regional and international levels are therefore essential to address the root causes of the conflict in eastern DRC. The Nairobi and Luanda processes remain central and must be revitalised as a matter of urgency. We therefore welcome the holding of the extraordinary mini-summit on the situation in the DRC on the margins of the ordinary session of the African Union, at the initiative of President Lourenço.

In this context, we call for the ceasefire to be respected by all parties. We reiterate our call on Rwanda to immediately cease all support for the M23 and to withdraw its soldiers which, according to the report by the United Nations group of experts, would be present on the territory of the DRC. At the same time, we call for the support provided to armed groups, including the FDLR, by certain elements of the FARDC to cease.

I would like to conclude by reiterating Switzerland's full support for MONUSCO. Switzerland welcomes the statements by the Congolese Minister of Defence, reaffirming the support of the DRC for MONUSCO. We encourage the DRC to continue its collaboration with MONUSCO to ensure an environment conducive to the implementation of its mandate, to protect its personnel and to combat misinformation against the mission.

Faced with the risk of regional unrest and in the context of MONUSCO's gradual disengagement from the east of the DRC, the Security Council has a responsibility to show unity and send a strong signal regarding its commitment to peace and security in the region.

Thank you.

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