Job creation and development can end conflicts in the Great Lakes Region, says UN head

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a group picture with pupils of Bwerangula Primary School, Kitchanga, North Kivu, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a group picture with pupils of Bwerangula Primary School, Kitchanga, North Kivu, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

The Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon has said if leaders, governments, and the private sector can forge efforts and resources to create decent jobs for the peoples of the African Great Lakes Region, the area could rid itself of perpetual conflict and despair.

Speaking at the Great Lakes Private Sector Investment Conference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) capital Kinshasa, Ban Ki-Moon  said, in conceiving of the gathering  “leaders recognized that peace and development are two sides of the same coin,” the UN chief said adding They understood that the lack of jobs and opportunities creates a breeding ground for conflict – and that conflict itself is the biggest obstacle to human development.”

Mr. Ban Ki-moon utilized the opportunity to appeal to global business leaders, investors and development partners to help the region transform its production potential for the benefit of the its people.

He urged them to “Help to integrate the region into international value chains that change the nature of exports from raw materials to value-added exports. We are in the heart of Africa. This region can also be an engine for development and economic growth, building on the progress that has been made over the years. All of you are pivotal to forging that path.”

Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s visit to the conflict-prone region comes at a time when the United Nations is grappling with how to respond to the political crisis in Burundi, the humanitarian issues in the DRC, and other countries in the region and to the fragile situation in South Sudan.

Before his crossing to the vast Central African country, the UN Secretary General first held talks with the leaders in the Burundian capital Bujumbura earlier this week over the need to resume dialogue and end the 10-month turmoil. Ban Ki-moon then toured Eastern DRC town of Goma, and North Kivu province to assess the living conditions of the Internally Displaced Persons in camps.

“We have to give hope to young people particularly, we have to do much more to bring all these children back to school; we have to do much more to protect human dignity and human rights of women and girls to save them, to protect them from sexual violence,” the lead of the UN said Tuesday at a refugee camp in North Kivu.