The UN chief's representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has condemned the proliferation of messages inciting hatred, violence and hostility between communities in several provinces of the country.
Bintou Keita, who is also head of the United Nations Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO), called on Wednesday all political and community groups “to refrain from using discriminatory and provocative language on the basis of ethnic affiliations which could lead to further divisions in society and ultimately to the violence.”
Her call came at a time when the DRC is experiencing an exceptional mobilization of defense and security forces to restore peace and security in the eastern part of the country, which requires a national cohesion effort.
Hate speech and violence particularly exacerbated in the context of conflicts in eastern DRC, where clashes between armed groups in South Kivu, North Kivu, Ituri, Mai-Ndombe provinces have increased in recent months.
Keita said incitement to hatred, violence is an abuse of the right to freedom of expression, which is the foundation of a democratic society.
MONUSCO has reaffirmed its determination to support the efforts of the Congolese authorities to prevent and effectively fight against messages inciting hatred, violence and hostility between communities.
It also encouraged the Congolese parliament to adopt the bill against tribalism, racism and xenophobia currently under consideration in the National Assembly and stands ready to support the Congolese courts to initiate proceedings, in accordance with existing legislation.
The illicit exploitation of natural resources continues to be a root cause and driver of conflict in the east of the Central African country, according to the UN.
Most of the militia groups have set aside their political demands and are involved in mineral trafficking.
DRC is the world’s most neglected displacement crisis according to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) annual list, due to overwhelming needs and an acute lack of funding, as well as media and diplomatic inattention.