VICTORIA FALLS, ZIMBABWE —
Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) want the United Nations to assist in removing members of a Rwandan rebel group from eastern Congo.
The 15-member bloc made the appeal at the end of a two-day summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
The leaders of southern African countries also resolved to speed up the industrialization of their countries to fight poverty.
They said the region was “generally peaceful and stable,” but appealed to the United Nations to help address the situation in the Great Lakes region.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, a Southern African Development Community member, is hoping to rid its eastern provinces of rebel groups that have kept the region in the grips of chaos and violence for years.
"On the Democratic Republic of Congo, [the] summit also called upon the United Nations in co-operation with the African Union, to play its role in repatriating the FDLR elements that have voluntarily surrendered and disarmed or provide them with temporary resettlement in third countries outside the Great Lakes Region," said Stergomena Lawrence-Tax, SADC executive secretary.
FDLR refers to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a Rwandan Hutu rebel group, comprised in part of men who took part in Rwanda's genocide in 1994.
The region’s leaders noted “humanitarian assistance and malnutrition still remain a challenge” and they endorsed a 10-year regional food and nutrition security strategy to improve food security.
The leaders were silent on issues of human rights abuses and poverty, which civic organizations had wanted them to address at the summit.