PRES­I­DENT TACK­LES REFUGEE CRI­SIS AT UN

War­like nations to blame for calamity

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - From Mabasa Sasa at the UNITED NATIONS, New York Felex Share

THE self­ish in­ter­ests of a few nations are the root cause of the large-scale dis­place­ment of peo­ple the world over, and yes­ter­day’s adop­tion of the New York Dec­la­ra­tion on Refugees and Mi­grants is a step in the right di­rec­tion in en­sur­ing dig­nity for all, Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe has said.

He was ad­dress­ing world lead­ers at the United Nations head­quar­ters here yes­ter­day as the or­gan­i­sa­tion adopted a key dec­la­ra­tion in the midst of a grow­ing refugee cri­sis whose roots lie in Amer­i­can and Euro­pean desta­bil­i­sa­tion of frag­ile states.

Though not legally bind­ing, the dec­la­ra­tion calls on coun­tries to pro­tect the hu­man rights of the world’s more than 65 mil­lion refugees, in­crease hu­man­i­tar­ian aid, help with re­set­tle­ment, stan­dard­ise re­sponses and pro­vide bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for dis­placed peo­ple.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe said, “Over the past year we’ve wit­nessed har­row­ing im­ages of refugees risk­ing their lives to flee the dire re­al­i­ties in their coun­tries of ori­gin. We’ve been equally shocked at the hos­tile re­cep­tion refugees have of­ten been sub­jected to.

“Against this back­ground, we are pleased at the con­ven­ing of this im­por­tant meet­ing that al­lows us to ex­plore a col­lec­tive blue­print for deal­ing with large move­ments of refugees and mi­grants. We’re also pleased that the New York Dec­la­ra­tion for Refugees and Mi­grants high­lights the im­por­tance of ad­dress­ing the root cause of the large move­ments.”

He went on: “We’ve noted that a large por­tion of refugees that have landed on Euro­pean shores orig­i­nated from coun­tries in armed con­flict such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

“We there­fore are con­vinced that a re­turn to the UN Char­ter ideals of sav­ing suc­ceed­ing gen­er­a­tions from the scourge of war and re­frain­ing from us­ing armed force is crit­i­cal in ad­dress­ing the root cause of large move­ments of refugees.”

He said the predilec­tion to mil­i­tary force by some coun­tries had need­lessly cre­ated a refugee cri­sis.

“More of­ten than not, mem­ber states have been too keen to re­sort to force with­out ex­haust­ing peace­ful means. This hege­monic mil­i­tary doc­trine and ad­ven­tur­ism, fu­elled by a de­sire to achieve the nar­row na­tional in­ter­ests of a pow­er­ful few, is the root of the pro­lif­er­a­tion of armed con­flicts which have spawned so many refugees to­day.”

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe also said the re­sponses to an in­flux of refugees had seen cer­tain coun­tries, within the con­text of sup­pos­edly com­bat­ting ter­ror­ism, treat­ing dis­placed peo­ple and mi­grants as ter­ror­ists.

“We’ve a col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity to change the nar­ra­tive on mi­grants and mi­gra­tion in our coun­tries. Many coun­tries owe their suc­cess in busi­ness and sci­en­tific prow­ess to the in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tions of mi­grants and refugees.

“We com­mend those states that have, de­spite their own lim­i­ta­tions, opened their bor­ders to mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties. We, in Zim­babwe, have hosted many refugees from con­flict-af­fected coun­tries. We call for a bal­anced fo­cus on the hu­man­i­tar­ian plight of mi­grants and refugees world over.”

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe is in New York for the 71st UN Gen­eral Assem­bly, and he is ac­com­pa­nied by First Lady Dr Grace Mu­gabe, For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sim­barashe Mum­bengegwi and Tourism and Hospi­tal­ity In­dus­try Min­is­ter Dr Wal­ter Mzembi. PO­LICE “must do their job” when faced with vi­o­lent protests be­ing ad­vo­cated by op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties and shad­owy groups in the coun­try, Bri­tish Am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe, Ms Ca­tri­ona Laing, said yes­ter­day.

She said while the po­lice should be im­par­tial when ex­e­cut­ing their du­ties, pro­tes­tors should know that any demo­cratic coun­try ab­horred burn­ing of prop­er­ties, loot­ing of shops and at­tacks on in­no­cent peo­ple.

Ms Laing was speak­ing af­ter pay­ing a cour­tesy call on In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Min­is­ter Dr Christopher Mushohwe at his Mun­hu­mu­tapa of­fices.

Asked about what the po­lice should do when faced with vi­o­lent protests like the one car­ried out by the MDC-T and its al­lies re­cently, the en­voy said: “We’ve made it clear that we con­demn all vi­o­lence. Of course it is ab­so­lutely right for peo­ple to protest as the Con­sti­tu­tion says. It must be peace­ful and the po­lice re­sponse must be to­tally pro­por­tion­ate. We to­tally con­demn the re­cent hor­ri­ble vi­o­lence we’ve seen… but we con­demn vi­o­lence from wher­ever it comes. It’s in the Con­sti­tu­tion and peo­ple must have the right to protest peace­fully. Po­lice must do their job but there are mat­ters of crowd con­trol that don’t re­quire the use of vi­o­lence.”

Op­po­si­tion par­ties — led by the MDC-T and Zim­babwe Peo­ple First un­der the ban­ner of Na­tional Elec­toral Re­form Agenda (NERA) — two weeks ago un­leashed an orgy of vi­o­lence, loot­ing shops and burn­ing ve­hi­cles.

Po­lice of­fi­cers on duty and in­no­cent cit­i­zens go­ing about their busi­ness were also at­tacked.

Britain and other Western coun­tries have been fin­gered as the fun­ders of the vi­o­lent protests as part of their regime change agenda.

Dr Mushohwe said with vi­o­lence, op­po­si­tion par­ties would never gov­ern Zim­babwe as only peo­ple-ori­ented pro­grammes, as ex­hib­ited by Zanu-PF, won the hearts of the masses.

“I told her that if they think vi­o­lence on the streets will win the hearts of Zim­bab­weans, they are mis­taken,” he said.

“I can as­sure the op­po­si­tion that if they think burn­ing ve­hi­cles, loot­ing peo­ple’s shops when they are try­ing to eke out a liv­ing (is the way to go), they must as well for­get it. They will be in op­po­si­tion for­ever. If they want to be in power they must do the right things for the peo­ple of Zim­babwe.”

Ms Laing de­nied fund­ing pro­tes­tors and that two Bri­tish na­tion­als, Sa­muel Hamil­ton Adamson and Gor­don Don­ald Birnie re­cently sneaked into the coun­try to re­view the vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions.

The duo is known for en­gi­neer­ing vi­o­lent street “protests” in North and West Africa.

Said Ms Laing: “It’s com­pletely fab­ri­cated, it’s a to­tally made up story. There is ab­so­lutely no trace what­so­ever, we don’t sup­port any protest move­ments. We cer­tainly don’t have spies here.

“We had a team here which was look­ing at avi­a­tion se­cu­rity and try­ing to as­sist the Govern­ment of Zim­babwe. The story that there were spies here is com­pletely fab­ri­cated.”

Dr Mushohwe said he had clar­i­fied to Ms Laing that the Com­puter Crime and Cy­ber Crime law be­ing mooted by the Govern­ment was not in­tended to “kill” free­dom of ex­pres­sion but to thwart ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties.

“I did in­di­cate that per­haps peo­ple are get­ting wrong im­pres­sions about the in­ten­tions be­hind this Bill,” he said.

“This Bill is not in­tended to kill free­dom of ex­pres­sion, it’s not in­tended to si­lence peo­ple. I said to her even Britain has a sim­i­lar piece of leg­is­la­tion. If any­thing, this is in­tended to en­sure we join other nations in fight­ing the threat of ter­ror­ism. We don’t want in­for­ma­tion to be trans­mit­ted through Zim­babwe or in­for­ma­tion here that threat­ens the na­tional se­cu­rity of other coun­tries.”

Dr Mushohwe said Ms Laing had also raised con­cern over what she termed Govern­ment pol­icy in­con­sis­tency sup­port­ing her as­ser­tion with Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa’s Mid-Term fis­cal pol­icy re­view pro­nounce­ments on civil ser­vice ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion.

Bri­tish Am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe, Ms Ca­tri­ona Laing, with In­for­ma­tion, Me­dia and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Min­is­ter Dr Christopher Mushohwe in Harare yes­ter­day

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