- VP ALUPO TELLS ICGLR SUMMIT IN ANGOLA THAT UGANDA NOW HOSTS 489229 CONGOLESE REFUGEES
Uganda has expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, with the Vice President Maj. Jessica Alupo informing an international meeting that the country is now hosting close to half a million refugees from DR Congo.
“We are deeply concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in the Country” Alupo told the 10th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the International Conference on Great lakes Region and Sudan held yesterday in the Angolan capital-Luanda.
The Vice President who represented President Yoweri Museveni at the summit and presented government’s brief on the DR Congo, said as at 30 April 2023 the country [Uganda] is hosting 489,229 refugees from the DRC alone.
She said Uganda fully supports all efforts aimed at alleviating this situation.
“We urge the AU Commission and the International Community to continue supporting the humanitarian efforts of the Government including through convening a humanitarian pledging conference dedicated to eastern DRC” The Vice President told fellow leader Heads of State.
Alupo briefed the summit that in line with the Decisions of the Addis Ababa Mini Summit held on 17 February 2023, On 29 March, Uganda flagged off a Contingent of Troops to join the East African Community Regional Force with the objective of helping the DRC stabilize the Bunagana-Rutshuru-Goma area. She said this area is where the M23 has been operating against the DRC government.
She said government welcomes gains so far made by the regional force and also welcomes the report and the recommendations by H.E Uhuru Kenyatta who’s the Facilitator of the EAC- led Nairobi process.
She said problems facing the great lakes region cannot be resolved through only military means but instead the issue of political question must also be taken into account.
Alupo emphasized the need for all States Parties of the EAC to respect and implement decisions of the Summit and obligations agreed upon in previous meetings of Heads of State and other established instruments on the restoration of peace and security in eastern DRC.
She said Uganda fully supports the Nairobi and Luanda Processes and also supports the full and timely implementation of the decisions of the 21st Extra-Ordinary Summit of the East African Community Heads of State held on 31 May 2023 in Bujumbura as it relates to the Peace and Security situation in Eastern DRC and the mandate of the East African Community Regional Force among others.
“To this end, we want to emphasize that Citizens are the owners of the country and they should be given the opportunity, at all times, to participate in taking decisions concerning their Country. It’s important to recognize that the real Supreme Court to any political argument is free, fair and regular elections without exclusion of anyone or group that qualifies within the establishment of the Constitution” she said.
The Vice President called for immediate de-escalation and unconditional cessation of hostilities to create an enabling environment for the peaceful means of resolving the conflict to take place.
She added that there is need for integration of the fighting forces into the National and Professional Army with correct Ideology as this has happened in many parts of Africa including Uganda.
“In the process of conflict, warring parties make mistakes. We therefore call on all stakeholders in the DRC to embrace and promote dialogue and reconciliation as a way of putting an end to violence. This is because if the different actors in the conflict are convinced that reconciliation is possible, they would be more likely to agree to a ceasefire without fear of any reprisals” she said.
Alupo said there is also need to address the underlying root causes and drivers associated with Youth participation in violence. She added that supporting socio-economic programs aimed at empowering especially the Women and Youth is crucial.
“This will, re-orient our people away from the Politics of Identity to the Politics of Interests” she noted adding that the AU Commission; and the Secretariats of the EAC and the ICGLR needs to mobilize financial and technical support to support the peace processes in eastern DRC especially as it relates to the deployment of the EAC- Regional Force.
She thanked the government of Angola led by H.E João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço who is also the Chairperson of the ICGLR for the warm hospitality extended to her and her delegation during their stay and for organizing the summit. She said great lakes region has had many challenges for so long among which includes terrorism by negative elements such as the Allied Democratic Forces.