IRIN Update 536 for 2 Nov 1998

IRIN Update 536 for 2 Nov 1998

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Update No. 536 Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 2 November 1998)

KENYA: Ethiopia, OLF deny involvement in Wajir massacre

Both the Ethiopian government and the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have denied any involvement in last week's Wajir massacre, in northern Kenya, when raiders killed 142 people, according to official figures. A press statement from the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi, received by IRIN today (Monday), said the OLF had no base from which to operate in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian authorities believed Ethiopian territory bordering Kenya was peaceful. The statement expressed concern over media allegations that "Ethiopian militiamen" were involved in the attack, which gave the wrong impression that Ethiopian government forces had taken part.

The OLF meanwhile, in another statement received by IRIN, rejected the allegations as "baseless" and accused the Ethiopian government of trying to split the Borana, Gabra and Degodia communities who inhabit the region. It said the OLF "has no cause to be on Kenyan soil", adding that it would cooperate with any investigation into the incident.

The ICRC has sent a team to Wajir with medicines and food. In a press release, it expressed concern over the raids which even targeted children and pregnant women. The Kenyan authorities were searching the Moyale and Wajir areas for survivors and perpetrators of the attacks, local media reports said.

SUDAN: Official hails Ethiopia's move to close SPLA office

Sudan has welcomed a move by the Ethiopian government to close down the rebel SPLA office in Gambela, near the Sudanese border. According to the daily 'al-Rai al-Aam', presidential adviser Adam al-Tahir said the measure demonstrated Ethiopia's "seriousness to normalise relations with Sudan". The move follows the resumption of Ethiopian Airlines flights to Khartoum. The DPA news agency said the SPLA's expulsion from Gambela was first reported by a United Arab Emirates newspaper and timed to coincide with the closure of OLF offices in Sudan.

SPLA warns oil companies to leave northern Upper Nile area

The SPLA meanwhile, in a statement read out over opposition Voice of Sudan radio, has warned foreign oil companies to evacuate oilfields in the Bentiu and northern Upper Nile areas ahead of a planned rebel offensive. "Our forces are only 28 km from the Adar Yiil oilfields," the radio said.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government protests over UN report

The Congolese government has protested to the UN against a report alleging the ethnic cleansing of Tutsis. Speaking over DRC television on Friday, Human Rights Minister Leonard Okitundu said a report by Roberto Garreton, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the DRC, was "based on false allegations and reflects a lack of seriousness". Okitundu claimed the Tutsi communities in Kinshasa and Katanga were being "protected" by the authorities.

US concerned over humanitarian situation

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice, during talks with President Laurent-Desire Kabila on Saturday, expressed concern over the humanitarian and human rights situation. "We expressed our great concern about the spectre of ethnic violence which is resurfacing in this part of the world," she said, according to DRC television. Rice described her meeting with Kabila as "productive", and said the US side stressed the need to preserve DRC's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US believed a non-military solution should be found to end the conflict.

Kabila allies pledge to step up military action in east

A mini-summit of Kabila allies in Lubumbashi yesterday (Sunday) vowed to step up military operations in eastern DRC, state radio reported today. The summit was attended by Kabila and his counterparts from Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, and Namibia, Sam Nujoma. Angola was invited, but President Jose Eduardo dos Santos did not show up because the meeting was "convened at short notice", according to Mugabe who stressed Luanda's "continued solidarity" with the DRC.

Profiteers to face court martial

Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo on Saturday warned against illegal economic activities, saying anyone found forging currency or fixing unlawful prices would face a military tribunal. Speaking over national television, he accused Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi of waging an "economic war" alongside the "military aggression". "Traders, in connivance with the enemy, are fixing excessively high prices and illegal exchange rates that are not justified by any economic parameters," he said, adding that this was "high treason".

Shabunda residents still fearful

Rebel-controlled Bukavu radio says the people of Shabunda are still living in fear, a month after the area was shelled before its "liberation". Some residents were still sheltering in forests, but those who had remained in the town had embarked on a sensitisation campaign to try and persuade them to return to their homes. The radio noted normal trading activities had not yet resumed, due in part to the difficulty in supplying Shabunda with essential commodities from Bukavu. Commercial activities were also reportedly disrupted by "unpatriotic elements" who were attacking businessmen along a section of the Kingulube forest.

Food situation worsening in Lubumbashi

Humanitarian sources have expressed concern over the deteriorating food situation in Lubumbashi, where basic foodstuffs are expensive and becoming increasingly rare in the markets. The sources told IRIN the production of maize and beans was mainly coming from the Kalemie and Moba areas, which are now cut off from the rest of Katanga province. Flooding in the province has destroyed up to 70 percent of last year's crop, they added.

Tanzania says Rwanda obstructing peace process

Tanzania, meanwhile, accused Rwanda of obstructing the DRC peace process, news organisations reported. Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete told journalists Kigali's refusal to admit its troops were involved in the conflict was a major obstacle to a ceasefire agreement adopted at last week's Lusaka meeting. He also warned that if rebels from the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) used Tanzanian airspace during the conflict, their planes would be shot down. Tanzania was neutral in the conflict, Kikwete added, according to Reuters.

Uganda and Rwanda reportedly to streamline DRC operations

Uganda has appointed a senior adviser on the Congo conflict amid reports that a new Ugandan command has been formed to foster closer cooperation with the Rwandan army in DRC, the 'EastAfrican' reported today. The adviser, Major General David Tinyefuza, resigned from the Ugandan armed forces in 1996 over operations in the north. Military sources, cited by the newspaper, also said Brigadier Chefe Ali had been appointed to head military operations inside DRC. The move is aimed at streamlining operations against rebels in Congo who pose a threat to Rwandan and Ugandan security, the sources added.

RWANDA: Villagers kill 27 rebel attackers

Angry villagers killed 27 rebel infiltrators in the Murambi area of Kigali Rural prefecture last Sunday (25 October), the Rwanda News Agency reported yesterday. It said a group of armed Hutu militiamen crossed into the area from Ruhengeri prefecture and tried to raid a displaced persons' camp at Coko trading centre in Rushashi commune. They killed three civilians and looted the local health centre before villagers arrived on the scene and surrounded them "without the intervention of the army". "This is a sign that the population is dissociating itself from the extremists," Kigali Rural prefect Wellars Gasamagera told RNA.

Akayesu ends hunger strike

Ex-mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, recently convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), ended his hunger strike at the ICTR's detention facilities in Arusha on Friday. An ICTR press release, received by IRIN today, said Akayesu had informed the Registrar he would utilise "the established procedures" to pursue his request for a defence lawyer of his choice to handle his appeal.

Government urged to establish human rights commission

The UN Human Rights Commission has urged Rwanda to facilitate the establishment of a national human rights commission. In a report to the UN General Assembly, the Commission's special representative for Rwanda, Michel Moussalli, called on the international community to provide all the necessary technical cooperation and resources to support the effective functioning of such a commission. He noted an improvement in some prison conditions, but said severe overcrowding remained a problem.

BURUNDI: Some 50 NGOs working

About 50 international NGOs are currently operational in Burundi and NGO activities now cover all provinces, OCHA-Burundi told IRIN today. Several additional NGOs are in the process of obtaining government accreditation to work in the country. NGO staff, who were temporarily evacuated from Makamba, Rutana and Kayanza provinces due to insecurity in early October, were all able to return by mid-October, OCHA-Burundi has confirmed.

Rutana displaced return home

Meanwhile, a UN/NGO mission to Rutana on 22-23 October has reported that an estimated 5,000-8,000 people, recently displaced as a result of insecurity in the area, have been able to return to their homes, according to the latest OCHA report on affected populations in the Great Lakes region. There are an estimated 534,606 people currently living in 300 displaced sites throughout Burundi, which represents about nine percent of the country's total population, the report notes.

AFRICA: UN launches malaria initiative

Four UN agencies on Friday launched a new global campaign to fight malaria, which unlike most other major diseases is still spreading. The initiative, involving WHO, UNICEF, UNDP and the World Bank, will focus on Africa where 90 percent of malaria cases occur, the agencies said in a joint statement. In sub-Saharan Africa, malaria kills each day about 3,000 children under five years of age and is a major impediment to economic development.

The campaign will seek to strengthen health systems to ensure better access to health care, especially at community levels. It will promote the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, which have been shown to reduce malaria-related child deaths by one fourth. The initiative will also support the development of a malaria vaccine. However, scientists estimate that it will take 7-15 years before an effective malaria vaccine is ready, the statement added.

Nairobi, 2 November 1998, 14:40 gmt


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Date: Mon, 2 Nov 1998 17:32:20 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 536 for 2 Nov 1998.11.2 Message-ID: <>

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