By Henry Mukasa
Uganda has donated $1m (sh2.5b) to the Humanitarian Trust Fund created by the leaders of International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to alleviate the suffering of displaced people and refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The DRC also offered $1m (sh2.5b), Tanzania pledged $0.5m (sh1.25b) while Kenya similarly promised $0.5m (sh1.25b). A statement issued after the fourth summit on the DRC hosted at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Monday said that the other ten partners of the ICGLR were also asked to make pledges.
Violence broke out in Eastern DRC in April when M23 rebels led by Gen. Bosco Ntaganda launched rebellion on the Government of President Joseph Kabila. According to the United Nations over 260,000 Congolese were displaced as a consequence while another 60,000 crossed to Uganda and Rwanda as refugees.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that he was "deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian conditions, which continue to deteriorate and pose threat to the stability of the wider Great Lakes Region."
The ICGLR leaders met for the fourth time to try thrash a deal. As a result of the numerous unplanned emergency meetings by the regional body over the DRC crisis, it was agreed that each member state pays another $75,000.
The communiqué issued after the Monday summit said President Yoweri Museveni, the current chairman of the ICGLR summit was tasked to lead efforts aimed at ending the violence DRC. Museveni was also asked to continue with "diplomatic and political engagements to find a comprehensive solution to the crisis."
On the proposed deployment of the Neutral International Force (NIF) to monitor areas of war, the summit mandated Museveni to consult counterparts from the ICGLR, SADC and other African countries to mobilise contributions of the required 4,000 troops.
Museveni was also told to consult with the rest of the international community "in order to obtain the mandate of the African Union and the UN as well as raise enough logistical and financial resources."
The summit at Munyonyo was attended by Presidents; Museveni, Joseph Kabila (DRC), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi), Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and Vice Presidents, Dr Muhammed Gharib Bilal (Tanzania) and Dr Alhaj Adam Youssuf (Sudan).
Meanwhile Reuters news agency reported yesterday that Uganda was trying to broker direct peace talks between the M23 rebels and the DRC government. Kinshasa officials have so far refused to negotiate Reuters said quoting rebel and Ugandan government sources said.
Museveni, according to the agency, directed defense minister, Dr Crispus Kiyonga, to convince the rebels and Kinshasa officials to discuss the crisis. It was not possible to reach Kiyonga and the ministry of Defense spokesperson, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye said he was not aware of the development.