New York — United Nations Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki Moon, has urged Tanzania to uphold mediation efforts in conflict-hit countries across the Great Lakes region.
Mr Ki Moon observed yesterday during his meeting with Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister, Ambassador Augustine Mahiga. Dr Mahiga is in New York, where he is attending the 71st session of the United Nations on behalf of President John Magufuli.
The UN chief stressed that Tanzania, being an abode for peace, security and democracy, should sustain its efforts to promote peaceful dialogue in conflict- borne countries, including South Sudan, Burundi and DRC. "I thank the Tanzanian government for a well done job in promoting peace and security in the region.
South Sudan is currently giving us serious doubts. President Magufuli should help restore security and peace in the newest country," he told Amb. Mahiga. Apparently, the UN chief lauded Tanzania for a continued support in peace mission as well as dedicated peace troop in Africa.
Mr Ki Moon seized the opportunity to thank Tanzania for voting him into second term as UN Secretary General. "I thank Tanzania, former President Jakaya Kikwete and you minister (Mahiga) and other government leaders for facilitating my re-appointment," he stressed.
He paid tribute to the 17 souls lost during the Saturday's 5.7 Richter Magnitude Earthquake that struck Kagera Region. Mr Ki Moon is in his last year in office and already the process to get his successor is underway.
Dr Mahiga told the UN Chief that he is representing President Magufuli who is still working on the earthquake aftermath. On his part, Amb. Mahiga lauded Mr Ki Moon for his good work as the UN boss during his ten years in office.
"On behalf of Tanzania, we are grateful for the contribution that you have made during your leadership at the UN. You offered a greater support to Tanzania, including appointing Dr Asha-Rose Migiro to be your deputy, also appointing me as your special envoy in Somalia," Amb. Mahiga told the UN chief. He explained that Mr Ki- Moon had given most priority to Africa and Africans during his entire time in office.
The foreign minister assured Mr Ki-Moon of Tanzania's commitment to sustain mediation efforts in the Great Lake region. Meanwhile, Tanzania has appealed to international community to discuss the issue of stateless people at the ongoing UN General Assembly.
Amb. Mahiga made the plea on Tuesday at the assembly's session in New York. Tanzania raised the concern as among the countries that accommodate refugees or helping the latter morally and materially, including granting them citizenship, employment and humanitarian aid.
At the session held to discuss the refugee issue, countries were required to give new pledges on helping the displaced persons to get more opportunities to relieve them of the many challenges they face. Dr Mahiga told participants that for Tanzania to shelter the refugees, it was a historic matter that started many years ago.
"Due to its geographical location, Tanzania became an immediate place for refugees to seek asylum. For over 60 years now, we have been receiving them and giving them shelter," he said.
He pledged that the country will continue supporting the refugees by considering local and international laws. "We have always been insisting on having regular discussions on the challenges facing the refugees.
But now another problem of having stateless people is becoming rampant as a number of them, particularly youth, is increasing," he said. Such situation has been more seen in southern part of the Great Lakes.
"When we discuss about the refugees, it's also good to consider that there is a problem of presence of stateless people," Amb. Mahiga pointed out.
Being a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and East African Community (EAC), Tanzania vowed to push the same agenda to these regional platforms for discussion.
Dr Mahiga promised at the assembly that Tanzania would help the refugee children access social services, including education and health. For the adults, the country would empower them to be able to employ themselves in agricultural sector.
Tanzania also pledged not to forcefully deport the refugees to their home countries.