Today the Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) met with her Congolese counterpart, Alexis Thambwe Mwamba, and with the Minister of International and South Cooperation Department, Raymond Tshibanda Ntunga Mulongo, for talks in Kinshasa.
The subject of the talks was the development cooperation, intensified since last year, and the situation in the crisis-afflicted region Kivu. The partners also discussed the current Swiss presidency of the Ministerial Conference of the International Organisation of the French-Speaking World (OIF), and the 13th Summit of French-speaking countries, which is to take place in Montreux on 22-24 October 2010. The Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) is to take over the presidency from Switzerland in 2011 and will host the subsequent summit of French-speaking countries in 2012.
Following the talks the head of the FDFA travelled with SDC Director Martin Dahinden to the eastern Congolese province of South Kivu, where the SDC runs a number of programmes. In the provincial capital of Bukavu, the Federal Councillor wishes to visit a Swiss-funded project providing psychosocial counselling to victims of violence (women and children). In particular the Federal Councillor is interested in seeing what effect the improved coordination of Switzerland’s aid has had on the individual projects. She is also scheduled to visit the Centre of Paediatric and Youth Medicine at the general hospital in Uvira, built with Swiss funding, and the cross-border regional radio station Maendeleo, and to meet with representatives of particular non-governmental organisations.
Later tomorrow, Thursday, the head of the FDFA will travel onward to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Federal Councillor Calmy-Rey’s delegation also includes an auditor, who will be inspecting the embassies in Kinshasa and Dar es Salaam as part of the regular monitoring of their finances and management.
Switzerland’s involvement in South Kivu/ the Great Lakes Region: Switzerland runs a regional focus programme in the Great Lakes Region (DRC, Rwanda, Burundi) with an annual budget of CHF 22 million, CHF 10 million of which flow into projects in the Congolese province of South Kivu. Switzerland’s commitments since 2000 have involved development assistance, the promotion of peace and human rights, and humanitarian aid. Areas of involvement have specifically included healthcare in addition to democratisation and good governance. The projects financed by Switzerland in South Kivu include funding basic medical care (e.g. paediatric healthcare), counselling for victims of violence (children, women, internally displaced persons) and improving democratic election processes by supporting regional media (Radio Okapi, Radio Maendeleo.) Projects made possible with Switzerland’s assistance were the renovation of two hospitals and four health centres, and the construction of a paediatric medical centre. A partner organisation supported by Switzerland counselled numerous victims of violent conflicts in Kivu: 2000 women received medical care and 6000 women obtained psychosocial counselling.
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