High-Level Humanitarian Conference on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

13 Apr 2018

Statement by H.E. Mr Johannes Oljelund Director-General for International Development Cooperation Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me the thank the co-hosts OCHA, ECHO and the Netherlands for taking the initiative to organise this conference at a time when it is so desperately needed. At the Security Council briefing March 19, great concern was expressed over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the DRC.

At least 13.1 million Congolese need humanitarian assistance. Too little attention has been paid to this crisis. We therefore appreciate the range of partners here today, sharing an understanding of and concern about the crisis. A united and coordinated international community, including the region, is key to ensuring progress. The Congolese people, not least women and children, are bearing the brunt of the suffering and deserve our attention. Now.

With a funding gap of USD 1.6 billion, more donors need to do more. The engagement of non-traditional partners is also critical. Sweden has a long-standing commitment to humanitarian aid for the people of the DRC and is further increasing its support in 2018 compared to last year. and remains one of the three largest bilateral humanitarian donors. As per early April 2018, Sweden has pledged and disbursed 28 million USD. Another 2.4 million USD will soon be disbursed. Further pledges can be expected later this year.

Sweden is a strong believer in providing unearmarked core support to actors with the capacity to act swiftly and efficiently . We also favour multi-year agreements to ensure stable and predictable resources for agencies, giving them a better horizon to plan their activities. We are therefore proud of our core support to OCHA, the WFP, UNCHR, the ICRC and the CERF. To exemplify, Sweden’s support to the DRC through our support to CERF is expected to amount to USD 7.2 million in 2018.

We welcome that the DRC government has pledged to set up its own humanitarian assistance fund of 100 million USD, but we remain convinced that additional support from the international community is needed. - The humanitarian crisis in the DRC is to a large degree man-made. The political crisis has added fuel to conflict, which in turn has led to forced displacement, hunger, sexual and gender-based violence, human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. The holding of credible, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections, followed by a democratic transition will be a first necessary step towards unlocking the country’s enormous potential. Women need to be included in decision-making processes. To counter the humanitarian crisis, progress in the political process is key, including implementation of the New Year’s agreement.

Humanitarian actors are doing admirable work in the DRC, despite many difficulties. It is of the utmost importance that safe, sustained and unhindered humanitarian access is granted to provinces in need. International humanitarian law must be respected. Civilians and aid workers must be protected. - Today’s thematic event is well chosen. Sweden is deeply engaged in the fight against sexual and gender-based violence and we are appalled by the widespread and recurring cases of violence against women, girls and boys. The Call to Action initiative launched by the UK and Sweden, now led by ECHO, seeks to fight SGBV, and more implementation in the field is a high priority. Continued work on these issues in the DRC will be of great importance, including the need for the FARDC to implement its action plan on addressing conflict-related sexual violence.

In the DRC, the need to address the nexus between humanitarian aid, development, democracy/human rights and peace has never been greater. An integrated approach is needed. Therefore, Sweden has aligned its humanitarian and development support, with a focus on building resilience. The efforts include conflict transformation, mediation and resolution. They include safe and affordable access to land for displaced populations and returnees. They also include the targeted and timely distribution of seeds, tools and livestock.

We truly regret the absence of the government of the DRC at this conference. A national engagement and ownership is key. We stand ready to continue our dialogue with the government, a dialogue best served by frankness and sincere willingness to tackle the vast humanitarian needs. - Root causes of conflict must be addressed to break a vicious cycle of violence. The DRC government, the region, the UN, international financial institutions and the international community must all play their part. The UN and the AU will have a critical role to play in the political dialogue with Congolese authorities. The joint visit by the UN and the AU at the highest level could be the start of such cooperation and we urge the DRC government to seize it. No effort should be spared to end the crisis in the DRC.

Last updated 02 Jul 2018, 3.50 PM