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UN official urges resolve towards
lasting peace in Great Lakes region       

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit, has urged more resolve for the commitments made under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework (PSCF) agreement towards lasting peace and stability in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Great Lakes region.

The PSCF agreement was signed on 24 Feb. 2013 by 11 African countries with firm commitments at national, regional and international levels to address the root causes of instability in the DRC and the region, one of the regions which suffered the most from the scourge of conflicts in Africa.

A stakeholders’ workshop organized jointly by the African Union (AU) and the UN to mark the 5th anniversary of the signing of the PSCF agreement for DRC and the region, was wrapped up on Wednesday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.   

Despite encouraging developments, the region remains at a cross-roads towards lasting peace and stability, said the UN Special Envoy in his remarks at the workshop.

Reiterating the commendable efforts to neutralize negative forces in the region, Djinnit has expressed concern that some illegal armed groups, such as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), have continued to strengthen their capacity and perpetrated massacres in the areas of Beni and Eringeti.

The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), the oldest foreign armed group which settled in eastern DRC, also remains active, the Special Envoy has warned.

“While the region is still struggling with these negative forces, it has also witnessed new and persisting conflicts in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, as well as the emergence of political and electoral crises in the DRC and Burundi,” he said.

“In addition to the suffering that these crises are bringing to the people of the region, they contributed to perpetuating tension and mistrust among the countries of the region,” he added.

The persisting conflicts and political crises in the Great Lakes continue to affect millions of people fleeing their homes, causing an increasingly severe humanitarian crisis.

Over 11 million people are currently displaced in the region, including close to 5 million refugees and 7 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), according to the UN.

“It is one of the world’s largest displacement crises,” he said, “In a context of growing humanitarian needs and dwindling funding, urgent durable solutions are needed to address the challenge of displacement in the region.”

Therefore, the Special Envoy has called for more resolve and efforts to ensure that the commitments made under the PSCF agreement, together with other key regional instruments, such as the the International  Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Pact, are fully implemented to deliver their promises for lasting peace and stability to the people of the region.

“In this regard, resolving, as a matter of priority, the crises in Burundi and the DRC and conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic is critical to create the conditions for the pursuit of efforts towards the full implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework,” he noted.

The PSCF agreement was signed five years ago, by eleven countries, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to break the recurring cycles of violence in the eastern DRC and ensure sustainable peace in the region.

The workshop has been held to assess the implementation of the PSCF and formulate concrete recommendations on how best to address the underlying root causes of conflict in the region and advance the implementation of the Framework agreement, according to AU.    

The agreement was signed by 11 countries, namely, Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the DRC, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, with UN, AU, ICGLR and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) acting as Guarantors. In early 2014, Kenya and Sudan became the 12th and 13th signatories of the Framework Agreement respectively.


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