January 16, 2017 – The United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Maman Sidikou, have vowed to find durable solutions to the issue of armed South Sudanese elements operating in parts of the DRC.
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The two officials kick-started a series of joint consultations in Goma and Kinshasa towns on 12 January, to address the presence of elements of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) in eastern DRC.

While in Goma, the UN officials reportedly met the Governor of North Kivu, Julien Paluku, and the SPLM/A-IO ex-combatants accommodated in Munigi camp, in addition to receiving briefings by humanitarian and legal experts.

Governor Paluku, the UN said in a statement, expressed serious concern at the potential for further destabilization of the situation in North Kivu if the SPLM/A-IO elements are not relocated as soon as possible and requested the world body’s support to facilitate relocation of the armed group.

The SPLM/A-IO elements, on the other hand, expressed their deep appreciation to the UN mission’s efforts and support.

The South Sudanese rebels also requested the support of the world body to be reunified with their families in the region.

In finding a durable solution to the problem in the DRC, the two senior UN officials reportedly reiterated their commitment of the United Nations to assist in finding solutions, in cooperation and consultation with the authorities of the DRC, the countries of the region, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union to the presence of the SPLM/IO elements.

“The United Nations is determined to work with the Government of the DRC, the concerned countries of the region, IGAD and the AU to find durable solutions for these elements and support the implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan”, said Djinnit.

“We must do everything possible to avoid a spill-over of the crisis from South Sudan into the DRC which would have a serious impact on the people living in the area already under stress due to activities of many illegal armed groups”, he added.

Meanwhile in Kinshasa, the UN officials held separate meetings with Prime Minister Sammy Badibanga, the Chief of Staff to the President, Néhémie Wilondja, and Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary who led a delegation composed of senior officials from the Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs and Defence.

The DRC government and UN officials agreed to establish a joint technical committee tasked to develop some options for the relocation of the SPLM/A-IO ex-combatants.
The committee’s first meeting is scheduled for 18 January.

“I welcome ?the decision of the Government to establish a Technical Committee, jointly with MONUSCO, ?to resolve the issue of the SPLM/A-IO elements in MONUSCO premises. I am confident that this will provide an opportunity to deepen the Mission’s cooperation with the Government in this matter,” stressed Special Representative Sidikou.

Following the DRC consultations, the UN two senior officials will reportedly continue their engagement with national and regional stakeholders in Juba, South Sudan as well in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in early February.

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