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Africa’s Great Lakes Region Recommits To Tackling Security Challenges

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Peace, security and development are still complex targets to achieve in Africa’s Great Lakes Region because of unresolved local internal problems in the 12 member states.

On Friday, heads of states and government from these member states held virtually their 8th summit and discussed on how to tackle the existing challenges on Peace, security and development. This virtual gathering was convened by Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, the current ICGLR chair.

President Paul Kagame participated in this summit and observed that peace is a pre-condition for development and prosperity.

“A collaborative and harmonised approach is the best way to deal with the security and public health challenges facing the Great Lakes,” President Kagame said.

It should be noted that the Great Lakes Region is currently faced with a heightened level of insecurity ranging from very active armed groups in Eastern DRC that have continuously launched attacks in neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi.

South Sudan and Central Africa are also actively under siege from internal security challenges that have attracted intervention of peace keeping missions under the joint UN and AU command.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame during the virtual 8th ICGLR summit on November 20

However, President Kagame believes that it is past time to uproot the armed groups, once and for all.

Last week on November 11, the regional grouping said it had taken significant step toward eradicating statelessness in the region as it marked the 6th anniversary of the Global Campaign to End Statelessness by 2024.

“Genocide fugitives should not find refuge anywhere in our region and should be brought to Justice,” President Kagame said on Friday, adding that this can only be achieved through cooperation among the countries of ICGLR to even overcome other regional challenges.

Three years ago, the IGCLR issued the Brazzaville Declaration on the Eradication of Statelessness in the Great Lakes Region along with its Regional Plan of Action 2017-2019.

ICGLR defines a stateless person as someone who does not have the nationality of any country.

“Thousands of people living in the region cannot establish their nationality, with devastating consequences on the effective enjoyment of their human rights, leaving them marginalized and not able to access services such as education and health,” the ICGLR says.

With their acceptance of the Brazzaville Declaration, the ICGLR now has a more ambitious common framework for the eradication of statelessness in the Great Lakes Region. This includes a new strategic objective to guarantee access to proof of legal identity such a national identity documents as well as a further specific aim to strengthen universal birth registration in order to prevent statelessness. The validated plan of action will run through 2024, in line with the Global Campaign to End Statelessness.

Clementine Nkweta Salami, UNHCR’s Director of UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for East Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region, said last week, “civil and birth registration is essential to prevent statelessness.”

ICGLR members include; Sudan, Rwanda, Kenya, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan, CAR, Zambia, Angola,Tanzania and Burundi.

Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda represented President Kaguta Museveni at the virtual Summit

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