- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2409 (2018), in which the Council requested me to report on the implementation of the commitments made under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region.It provides an overview of peace and security developments in the Great Lakes region since the issuance of my previous report (S/2018/209) and covers the period from 1 March to 31 August 2018.
II. Major developments
A. Security situation
During the reporting period, the security situation in the Great Lakes region was marked by unresolved conflicts in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan; persistent activities by illegal armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and reports of security-related incidents in some border areas. The presence and activities of foreign armed groups in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo remained a major challenge to security and continued to affect the building of trust and cooperation among countries of the region.
A positive development during the period was cooperation among the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda towards the repatriation of disarmed combatants of the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and their dependants, as well as former combatants of the Mouvement du 23 mars (M23), following the launch of the follow-up mechanism for their repatriation, in April 2018.
There was also progress in the relocation of elements of the Sudan People ’ s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) accommodated on premises of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As of August 2018, 576 SPLM/A-IO elements, out of an initial total of 627, had relocated to third countries as a result of joint efforts by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and MONUSCO.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the security situation con tinued to deteriorate in the eastern provinces. Some local armed groups, including the Mouvement national pour le renouveau, operating in North Kivu, and the Coalition nationale du peuple pour la souveraineté du Congo, led by Mayi - Mayi Yakutumba, operating in parts of South Kivu, Maniema and Tanganyika Provinces, strengthened their anti - government postures.
While no military confrontation involving the former M23 members was recorded during the reporting period, in a communiqué issued on 13 August, the group declared that its elements had been present on Congolese territory since January 2018. The communiqué stated that the group did not intend to engage in war and, instead, meant to promote a free and credible electoral process in the country.
The Al lied Democratic Forces (ADF) remained active in North Kivu Province and reportedly continued to recruit followers from neighbouring countries. Recent operations by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo against the group reportedly result ed in a split within ADF, which, thereafter, appeared to be operating in small, largely independent groups. Alleged ADF attacks targeted Congolese security forces and the civilian population, as well as MONUSCO forces.
Since the beginning of 2018, more tha n 100 civilians have been killed in ADF attacks.
The most severe incident during the reporting period was the killing of 14 farmers on 2 August, on the outskirts of Beni, North Kivu Province.
The reporting period witnessed continuing weakening of FDLR, due to reported internal divisions as well as some progress towards the repatriation of disarmed former FDLR combatants and dependants to Rwanda. This notwithstanding, FDLR remained active and allegedly recruited from within the Hutu-dominated Nyatura armed groups and in Virunga National Park, in North Kivu Province. Furthermore,
FDLR reportedly provided logistical support to local armed groups, particularly Nyatura.
The security situation in Burundi remained calm yet unpredictable. On 11 and 12 May, unidentified armed elements staged an attack on a village in Cibitoke, near the border between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, killing at least 26 civilians. Burundian authorities claimed that the attack had been carried out by Burundian armed groups operating from the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and requested the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to investigate the incident.
Cross-border security-related incidents continued along the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, on the one hand, and between Burundi and Rwanda, on the other. On 5 July 2018, four Ugandan soldiers and three civilians were killed in clashes between the security forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda on Lake Edward. Congolese authorities requested the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism to investigate the incident, which, they claimed, had been triggered when Ugandan troops had entered Congolese territory. During the same period, Uganda expressed concern regarding the presence, near its border, of armed elements believed to belong to the Front de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri militia.
Following unconfirmed reports of activities by armed groups in Rwandan territory near the border with Burundi, the Burundian armed forces released a statement on 10 July, noting that they had not found any evidence of Rwandan opposition groups operating from Burundian territory.
The continued presence of South Sudanese refugees and internally displaced persons along the Congolese border with South Sudan continued to present a security challenge as members of the warring South Sudanese factions were reported to mingle with the refugee population . A similar context prevailed along the border between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where elements of Central African armed groups allegedly entered the Democratic Republic of the Congo in recent months.
In the Central African Republic, armed groups continued to occupy parts of the territory. Particularly in the east, militias maintained control of several areas of economic significance and continued to carry out deadly attacks, including against forces of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).