PRESIDENT TACKLES REFUGEE CRISIS AT UN
Warlike nations to blame for calamity
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