The meeting of defence ministers from 11 regional countries that concluded late Friday, agreed that all member states support and facilitate the implementation of the cessation clause on Rwandan refugees due to be evoked in December this year.
The defence and security ministers of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) concluded their meeting by signing a 14-point declaration aimed at making the region safer.
Over 70,000 Rwandan refugees are reportedly in neighbouring countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, among others that are member states of the regional grouping.
The refugees have been requested to return home willingly or lose their refugee status.
As meeting’s Rapporteur – Zambia’s Amb. Lt. Gen. Solomon Mumbi, who read the report, on Friday, noted as one of the decisions, “the meeting directed the conference secretariat to ensure follow up and coordination of implementation of the decisions of the meeting.”
Furthermore, the fight against terrorism as well as the phenomenon of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and in the Indian Ocean will now be part of the security issues that the ICGLR will address.
Mumbi, who is Zambia’s ICGLR national coordinator, noted that the ministers discussed the situation in Somalia and noted that even though the Al-Qaeda affiliate – Al-Shabab, in Somalia’s capital –Mogadishu had been defeated, “it remains in control of other parts of Somalia.”
“There is a known connection between Al-Shabab and some negative forces in the region, like ADF. Al-Shabab is also targeting countries in the region to carry out terrorist attacks,” Mumbi read from the report, which was on translated into French, English and Portuguese.
The ministers also observed that following the severe drought in Somalia, there is famine and “serious displacement of people to Ethiopia and Kenya but the response to the situation remains inadequate.”
The ICGLR comprises the Sudan, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, the DRC, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.