Plenary speech on the Democratic Republic of Congo

Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group – Mr President, Commissioner, colleagues, a toxic cocktail of violence over natural resources, rape, the recruiting and employment of child soldiers, and poverty are destabilising Eastern Congo and affecting almost two and a half million people. Paramilitary groups are continuing to commit the worst crimes and are even helped by neighbours. It is clear that the EU needs to act in a coordinated manner with the United Nations and the African Union to push for an end to these ongoing and horrible events, and also to prevent an even further regional spill-over in the entire Great Lakes region. The EU should act jointly and strongly. Now several EU Member States have suspended aid to Rwanda as a result of the UN report that alleges involvement in the conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We also need an EU position towards all the individuals who violated the arms embargo. We can do more on the demand side by improving transparency in reporting on illegally mined minerals, for example. Independent investigations are also needed. The perpetrators of human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, sexual violence against women, and the recruiting of child soldiers should be brought to justice. The impunity must end, and I want to draw specific attention to the cowardly attack on the courageous Dr Mukwege, which killed his bodyguard. This case still needs to be independently investigated. He helped many women, and it is women who are the main victims of the ongoing violence.