Mahagi, DRC | MoFA UG | Uganda and neighbors DRC are meeting to resolve trans-boundary conflicts affecting the Albertine region.
Focus of the 3-day meeting that started on Monday will be on how citizens in the border region can best use the resources that Lake Albert and Edward provide. The meeting will also focus on the refugee and security situation in the region.
The meeting is a follow-up to a cross-border cooperation meeting that took place in Nebbi, in November last year to address reported conflict and skirmishes involving both government officials and citizens in the Albertine region. This as a result of an unclear border on the lake but also due to various human interventions.
Ambassador Paul Mukumbya, Head of the EAC and Ring States Department, is leading the Ugandan delegation in Mahagi, DRC. The DRC Delegation is headed by Amb. Jean Pierre Masala, Charge D’Affaires of the DRC Embassy in Uganda.
Mukumbya said the meeting aims to agree on viable and sustainable solutions to various challenges identified by both countries including illegal fishing, use of illegal fishing methods, over-fishing due to uncoordinated regulation policies, confiscation of fishing gear by both sides, extortionist practices on both sides, attacks on fishermen and law enforcement officials as well as reported incidences of piracy.
He explained that through the Nile Basin Initiative, an initial cooperation on the management of Lakes Edward and Albert was established through the first Lakes Edward and Albert Pilot Fisheries Project (LEAF I), which ended in 2009. This was followed by the establishment of a follow-up project, LEAF II.
Uganda’s 30-person multi-sectoral delegation of officials is led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and includes representatives from the Department of Fisheries (MAAIF), Ministry of Water and Environment, lEAF II project, URA, Office of the President, Resident District Commissioners and local Government officials of the border districts.
The outcome of the meeting is expected to be a Joint Communique spelling out the areas of agreement and joint solutions arrived at by experts from both Governments to resolve lingering issues surrounding fishing in the Albertine region.
In Uganda, the Albertine region covers Bushenyi, Rubirizi, Mitooma, Kanungu, Ibanda, Kiruhura, Kamwenge, Kasese, Rukungiri (in Edward Basin) and Bundibugyo, Ntoroko, Hoima, Buliisa, Kibale, Kagadi, Masindi and Nebbi Districts (in Albert Basin). In DRC, the Lake Edward is in the North Kivu Province and Lake Albert in the Ituri Province. The total population within the Albertine area is estimated to be about 12 million people.