May 22, 2024

US Ambassador Calls for Action on Deteriorating Situation in Great Lakes Region as Tensions Remain Between DRC and Rwanda

Ambassador Robert A. Wood
Ambassador Robert A. Wood

US Ambassador Robert Wood has called for increased action to address the deteriorating situation in the Great Lakes region during a Security Council briefing on April 19.

While welcoming recent decreases in fighting and the initiative of regional partners, Wood highlighted the ongoing tensions between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda and called for all parties to meet their commitments under the Luanda communique, including the withdrawal of troops and disarmament of the M23 militia. Wood also emphasized the need to address the pressing security threat posed by ISIS-DRC, and the humanitarian crisis affecting the region, which has displaced over half a million people in 2023 alone.

The US is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to the eastern DRC, contributing over $140 million since October 1. Wood urged the DRC government to do more to protect its citizens, provide land for displaced people, and enforce laws against trafficking and exploitation of women and girls. Wood also emphasized the need for regional leaders to ensure their forces respect human rights and prioritize the safety of civilians, and called for greater coordination with the DRC Armed Forces, MONUSCO, and UN humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Meanwhile, the US Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power met with World Economic Forum President Børge Brende to discuss potential collaboration on expanding digital inclusion for gender equality, increasing private sector contributions toward climate adaptation, and mobilizing private sector human and investment capital toward Ukraine’s economic recovery. Following the WEF’s Annual Meeting in Davos, where Administrator Power announced the Enterprises for Development, Growth, and Empowerment (EDGE) Fund, Power and Brende acknowledged the critical role of private sector partners in achieving long-term, sustainable development impact.

The US has condemned the arrests of political opponents and critics by the Tunisian government, calling the actions fundamentally at odds with the principles of freedom of expression guaranteed in the country’s constitution. The arrest of former Speaker of Parliament Rached Ghannouchi and the closure of the Nahda party headquarters, among other actions, represent a troubling escalation against perceived opponents, according to the US. The US emphasized the Tunisian government’s obligation to respect human rights as essential to a vibrant democracy and the US-Tunisia relationship.

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