Zambia: Govt Monitors DRC SituationBy Xavier Manchishi, 25 September 2013
New York — ZAMBIA is closely monitoring the conflict in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) fuelled by the M23 rebels, Foreign Affairs minister Wylbur Simuusa has said.
Meanwhile, the second meeting of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Congo DR and the region has called for an immediate end to the conflict in the mineral-rich country.
Mr Simuusa said Zambia was more concerned with the fighting in Congo because of the spill-over effects that saw an influx of refugees crossing into the country and sometimes the actual fighting spiralling across the two countries' common border.
"If there's one conflict Zambia hopes should end immediately, it is the one in the DRC because that's a country we share the longest stretch of the border with and due to proximity, we tend to get lots of refugees fleeing the fighting," he said.
Several refugees have been entering Zambia mainly through Kilwa island in Luapula Province each time the M23 rebels strike.
Mr Simuusa said the seriousness attached to the call for disarmament during the meeting chaired by United Nations Secretary General and chair of the 10 member committee Yoweri Museveni was an indication that the long-awaited end to the conflict may be nearing.
He appealed to both sides of the conflict to ceasefire and for member States to uphold the commitments approved during the meeting and that the international community should renew bilateral commitment to end the conflict in the DRC.
In a communiqué released after the meeting, the M23 rebels were strongly condemned for the resumption of hostilities which have resulted in numerous civilian casualties and caused extensive damage in the occupied areas and in Goma.
Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson reiterated the need for continued regional cooperation to ensure implementation of a Great Lakes peace accord and to combat the activities of all armed groups that violated the rights of civilians throughout the region.
Meanwhile, the Zambian Government has embarked on a process of undertaking a national disability survey in order to have adequate information on the extent of disability in Zambia.
Community Development, Mother and Child Health Minister Joseph Katema said the survey was aimed at creating a database for persons with disabilities countrywide for effective planning.
Dr Katema was speaking during a high-level meeting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities.
He told the meeting chaired by UN General Assembly president William Ashe that Zambia remained committed to the realisation of various internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities which she was party to.
He said Zambia continued to take legislative, administrative and other measures to implement the various international and regional human rights instruments.