DRC Pledging Conference: Statement from Belgium

DRC Pledging Conference, April 13th 2018, Geneva

Statement from Belgium, Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister

 

Introduction

Let me start by expressing a word of thanks to OCHA, the EU and the Netherlands for having convened this event. This very first donor conference for the Democratic Republic of the Congo comes at a time when the country is struggling with one of the world’s most complicated humanitarian crises.

The ongoing violence and insecurity in several provinces of the DRC is leading to the most rapidly growing displacement crisis in the world. The country now counts a staggering 4.5 million internally displaced persons, the highest number of IDPs in a single African country, the second highest in the world after Syria.

We have to stop this. Let me briefly put forward four essential elements.

 
1. Protection and Access

First of all, I wish to remind all actors, including the Congolese Government, of their duty to protect the population, especially the most vulnerable - women, children and people with disabilities.

All parties must respect International Humanitarian Law and should facilitate safe and unhindered access for humanitarian personnel.

 
2. Humanitarian funding

But, secondly, respect for humanitarian principles is not even the bare minimum of what we can accept. We urgently need more humanitarian resources.

Last year, only 58% of the Humanitarian Response Plan was covered - the second lowest coverage level in the last ten years.

This is an embarrassment to the international community. And a stain on our collective responsibility.

For this year, with the need for resources doubling, the outlook is even more dire.

That is why Belgium is stepping its efforts.

In 2017, Belgium released in total 17 million euro in humanitarian funding for the DRC.

This year, I will raise my country’s contribution up to 25 million euro. A record-high contribution as an expression of Belgium’s continued solidarity with the Congolese people.

I urge all partners to follow suit and to strengthen their solidarity with the Congolese population. Your support is of critical importance to save lives and ease the suffering.

In addition to these 25 million euro in humanitarian funding, directly earmarked for the DRC, Belgium will contribute 90 million euro in unearmarked funds to our humanitarian partners. This is a 10% increase compared to 2017. All of these partners are active in the DRC.

 
3. International collaboration

Third, the complexity and the scale of needs in the DRC require increased international collaboration.

Neighboring countries are doing important efforts to accommodate the increasing number of refugees. We thank them for their strong solidarity. Yet, we all know that a further deterioration carries the risk of a regional crisis.

At a time when insecurity is increasing, the presence and engagement of MONUSCO is even so critical. I therefore applaud the decision by the UN Security Council on the renewal of MONUSCO’s mandate, providing protection against human rights violations and facilitating peaceful elections.

 
4. Local accountability

A fourth, last and probably most important element is local accountability.

The DRC’s absence at this Conference is not only regrettable. It is also incomprehensible.

We will only end human suffering if the Congolese leaders take this humanitarian crisis seriously.

That’s why we urge the Congolese government to adjust its stance towards this humanitarian crisis so that we can tackle this together.

To end this humanitarian crisis, we have to end conflict and tackle structural problems such as poverty and underdevelopment.

Functional institutions and transparent, credible and inclusive elections, are a crucial step for enabling lasting peace, security and development.

Belgium stands ready to invest in the social and economic development of the DRC, to support credible elections - both politically and financially, and to continue its dialogue with the DRC government.

Excellencies, colleagues,

Laissez-moi terminer mon intervention en adressant un mot directement à la population Congolaise.

Trop souvent vous vivez des situations où vous êtes condamnés à votre fameux article 15, cet article imaginaire de la Constitution, selon lequel il faut se débrouiller pour survivre.

Votre débrouillardise et votre résilience sont devenues légendaires. Mais dans la crise actuelle même l’article 15 fait défaut.

Sachez que vous n’êtes pas seuls, sachez que nous resterons à vos côtés. 

Merci.
Thank you