After several weeks of peace talks the Congolese Government and the parties to the conflict in eastern DR Congo yesterday (23 January) signed a joint agreement. This agreement sets forth inter alia the modalities for disarmament and demobilization and envisages a partial amnesty for the rebels.
Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier today (24 January) gave the following reaction:
"I am delighted that President Kabila's peace initiative has been successful, leading to the signing of the agreement yesterday. The large number and the broad spectrum of participants in the peace conference show that there is a great desire for peace and reconciliation in this tormented region. I hope that the agreement will provide a solid basis for the lasting settlement of the conflicts in eastern DR Congo.
I appeal to all parties to implement the Goma agreement quickly. The violence against women and children must now be stopped. The people in North and South Kivu need peace at last if they are to have the chance of rapid economic and social development."
The conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has particularly affected women and children, many of whom have been the victims of sexual violence. In 2007, therefore, the Federal Foreign Office made available a total of EUR 4.19 million in humanitarian assistance for internally displaced persons in eastern DR Congo and for Congolese refugees in the neighbouring countries. In January 2008 the Federal Foreign Office gave around EUR 431,000 to two aid organizations to help returning Congolese refugees in South Kivu and internally displaced persons in North Kivu.