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Tanzania appeals to DRC to help release 21 abducted nationals

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian authorities on Wednesday appealed to authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to help release its 21 nationals abducted late last month by Mai Mai rebels in the jungles of the vast central African nation.

The Tanzanian truck drivers were kidnapped on June 29 along with three Kenyan drivers.

They were abducted at Lulimba area, 100 km away from Baraka town in South Kivu, while heading to Namoya Gold Mine in Mainiema Province. The rebels also took away their property.

Mindi Kasiga, Head of Communications Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, said despite the fact that the drivers had been set free yet they were still in difficult situation since they could not move unaccompanied from the area.

“The drivers have been set free by the rebels but they are in some way unsafe. They are unable to move from the area because they don’t have logistics such as money and they are also worrying about their safety,” said Kasiga.

She added: “The government is doing all it could to ensure all the Tanzanian drivers are rescued safely.”

She said the rebels attacked the trucks which were under the escort of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), taking all property which was in the trucks after an intensive fire exchange with the FARDC officers.

Kasiga said the Tanzanian government through its embassy in the DRC was communicating with the DRC government to see how they could rescue the trapped drivers.

Kasiga urged Tanzanians specifically truck drivers and business people to suspend their travels or seek travel advice before embarking on such trips to known risky areas around the world, including the DRC.

In September last year DRC’s Mai Mai rebels torched four Tanzanian trucks and abducted eight drivers at Namoyo, South Kivu.



Establishment of joint water management by
Rwanda, DRC, Burundi delayed over funding

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Establishing a permanent water authority for Lake Kivu and River Rusizi shared by Rwanda, DR Congo and Burundi will have to wait until member states pay their financial contribution, senior officials said Thursday.

The decision was made after environment ministers from DR Congo and Rwanda met in Kigali. They reached a joint resolution, urging member states to accelerate their payment to facilitate the setup of the permanent authority.

The three African countries agreed in 2011 to create a water resources authority for Basin of Lake Kivu and River Rusizi within the framework of regional cooperation, with each member states contributing 251,000 euros (280,000 U.S. dollars) to fund it.

The joint management is expected to prevent water pollution, encroachment by farmers and depletion, as well as monitor activities such as hydro-electricity exploitation, gas and petroleum exploitation and fishing, among others, officials said.

So far, only Rwanda has paid its part. Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s minister of natural resources and head of the council of ministers, called on member states to inject new impetus to raise the money.

“We have resolved that countries are going to accelerate the payment of arrears...there is need for ways to sustainably exploit shared water resources by protecting the water bodies,” Biruta said.

DR Congo’s Minister of Environment Amy Ambatobe Nyongolo reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the project despite the arrears.

The meeting also decided to inform Burundi, whose minister was absent, of the new drive to meet its financial obligations.


WHO declares end of Ebola outbreak in DRC

GENEVA Switzerland (Xinhua) -- The most recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is over, after four people died and another four survived the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday.

This is DRC’s eighth outbreak of EVD since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976. The WHO announcement came 42 days after the last confirmed Ebola patient in the affected Bas-Uele province, in northern DRC, tested negative for the disease for the second time.

The outbreak has caused four deaths, while a total of 583 contacts were registered and closely monitored, but no known contacts developed signs or symptoms of EVD.

“With the end of this epidemic, DRC has once again proved to the world that we can control the very deadly Ebola virus if we respond early in a coordinated and efficient way,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

On May 11 2017, WHO was notified by the Ministry of Public Health of the virus among a cluster of undiagnosed illnesses and deaths with haemorrhagic signs in Likati Health Zone. Likati is a remote, hard to reach area, bordering with the Central African Republic and two other provinces of the DRC. EVD cases were reported in four health districts.

The WHO Health Emergencies Program offered coordination support on the ground within 24 hours of the outbreak being announced, and deployed more than 50 experts to work closely with government and partners.

“Together with partners, we are committed to continuing support to the government of DRC to strengthen the health system and improve healthcare delivery and preparedness at all levels,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

The WHO said enhanced surveillance in the country will continue, as well as strengthening of preparedness and readiness for Ebola outbreaks.


Zambia plans local integration of DRC refugees

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambian President Edgar Lungu said on Friday that his government was considering extending a local integration program to refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Lungu said the government will extend the local integration program to DRC refugees who have lived in Zambia for 10 years or more.

The Zambian leader said this during his intervention statement at the Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees in Kampala, according to a statement released by his office.

The Zambian leader however did not state when the integration program for DRC refugees will commence.

Lungu left for Uganda on Thursday to attend the summit being hosted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Secretary-General Filippo Grandi.

In 2012, Zambia started the implementation of the local integration program for former refugees from Angola and Rwanda, in which it targeted the integration of 10,000 former Angolan refugees and 4,000 former Rwandan refugees.

According to government figures, a total of 1,214 resident permits have so far been issued to former Angolan and Rwandan refugees while 13,000 applications were currently being processed.

Lungu told the summit that the local integration program has been designed to mirror the co-existence and good neighborliness that have been the hallmarks of Zambia’s asylum policy.

He further commended the UNHCR office in Zambia for the unwavering support in the local integration program through infrastructure development.

Currently, Zambia has 59,213 refugees though the figure had reached 300,000 at one time.


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