Great Lakes: IRIN Update 230, 8/15/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 230, 8/15/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

Tel: +254 2 622147

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 230 on the Great Lakes (Friday 15 August 1997)

* Hundreds more refugees arrived in the DRC today fleeing fighting across the river in Congo-Brazzaville. Humanitarian sources say between 2,000 and 3,000 Congolese landed by boat Thursday. There have been scenes of panic in Brazzaville among the local population in the past few days as fighting between the forces of political rivals President Pascal Lissouba and Denis Sassou Nguesso intensified. Shells have fallen in the Bas Congo neighbourhood of Brazzaville controlled by the militia of Mayor Bernard Koulelas which has remained neutral during the conflict. Many IDPs had sought refuge in the quarter and are now fleeing. According to sources, anxiety has further mounted over the constitutional vacuum that will follow the end of Lissouba's mandate due on 31 August. There is also reportedly little hope for an early intervention by the UN following the strict preconditions set by the Security Council for the deployment of UN peacekeepers. Meanwhile, Lissouba and Sassou Nguesso are due to resume peace talks today in the Gabonese capital Libreville.

* The Angolan government yesterday denied that its soldiers were fighting in Congo-Brazzaville alongside the militia of rebel leader Denis Sassou Nguesso, AFP reported.

* WFP today warned that "tens of thousands" of Burundians living in camps inside the country "are not getting access to enough basic food sources to stave off malnutrition and life-threatening diseases." In displaced persons and particularly regroupment camps, clinical signs of malnutrition have become prevalent over the last few months as a consequence of people's restricted access to their land and crops. "In some cases, people have been in camps for so long they have missed two or three harvests, resulting in the rise of nutritional problems," WFP programming head in Burundi, Benoit Thiry, said. According to WFP, malnutrition rates are believed to be most acute in the northern provinces of Karuzi, Bubanza and Kayanza. In many of the regroupment camps in Karuzi, people are existing on only 60 per cent of the UN minimum food ration. In the highly insecure province of Bubanza, thousands are believed to be in hiding in the forests, and of those that have arrived at medical centres, "some are so weak from malnourishment they can barely stand." WFP has doubled its food aid assistance for the next five months, providing 21,000 metric tons of food to 280,000 of the most vulnerable of the displaced and regrouped persons.

* Burundi has accused Tanzania of disseminating "propaganda" aimed at sowing confusion ahead of the Burundi all-party peace talks, scheduled for Arusha on 25 August. A statement issued by the Burundi foreign ministry denied Tanzanian allegations that Burundi was trying to sabotage the peace process, and stressed that the Burundi government would attend the talks. The statement called on Dar es Salaam to totally lift the embargo against Burundi, to show willingness to cooperate by normalising bilateral relations and to dismantle "sanctuaries for armed groups" attacking Burundi from Tanzania. Burundi had no war intentions towards Tanzania, the statement added.

* Ambroise Niyombasa was appointed today to fill Burundi's newly created post of "peace process minister", AFP reported. Niyombasa previously held the rural development portfolio in 1994. The government had named energy minister Bernard Baranderka for the job, but according to AFP he turned it down.

* There was heavy fighting last weekend in the northwestern Rwandan prefecture of Gisenyi between the army and rebels, according to local sources. Some 300 prisoners were reportedly killed in the cachots of Kanama and Rubavu. The RPA is said to have deployed fresh units in Gisenyi backed by armoured personnel carriers. Villagers have reportedly moved closer to Gisenyi town to avoid the fighting.

* Jean Kambanda, the prime minister of the Rwandan interim government during the genocide was remanded in custody for a further 30 days at his own request by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Thursday. Tribunal president, Laiti Kama, said the extension was based on "the complexity and persistent difficulties of leading investigations in Rwanda," Fondation Hirondelle, an independent media organisation, reported. Kambanda was arrested on 18 July in Kenya and transferred to the ICTR detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania.

* The leader of the rebel National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) has been captured, Uganda radio said yesterday. Hajji Muhammed Kabeba, whose rebel group joined other dissident forces to form the Ugandan National Army Front operating along the DRC border in southwestern Uganda was arrested when he crossed into the country from the DRC on 3 August, according to the report.

* The DRC government defused a threatened general strike by public workers by promising to pay its civil servants in the coming days, 'La Reference Plus' reports. Some civil servants have not been paid for the past three months. However, according to the authorities, some 50 per cent of employees have been discovered to be ghost workers.

* At least one person was slashed to death and two others seriously wounded this morning in the port city of Mombasa, Kenyan TV said. The attack follows Wednesday night's violence in which six policemen and seven civilians were killed by unknown assailants. The police announced that 33 suspects have been arrested in connection with the unprecedented clashes in which two police posts were torched. So far no motive has been discovered for the raid.

Nairobi, 15 August 1997, 15:15 gmt


[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts from this report should include attribution to the original sources mentioned, not simply "DHA".]

------ Date: Fri, 15 Aug 1997 18:14:13 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 230 for 15 Aug 1997 97.8.15 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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