Great Lakes: IRIN Update 260, 10/1/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 260, 10/1/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 260 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday, 1 October 97)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: DRC plans Brazzaville military intervention

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Laurent-Desire Kabila said today (Wednesday) he plans to send troops into Congo-Brazzaville to create a security corridor and search for guns that have fired on Kinshasa for three consecutive days, the BBC reported. Kabila said the troops would only be deployed after talks with Brazzaville rebel leader Denis Sassou Nguesso. He described the troops as an "observation detachment" but would not confirm what military equipment they would carry, the BBC said. According to a regional analyst quoted in the report, Kabila is "clearly going to bring in some kind of peacekeeping force" and is attempting to play a "neutral mediator" role in the bitter conflict between Sassou Nguesso and President Pascal Lissouba.

DRC retaliates, artillery fires on Brazzaville

Gunners in Kinshasa opened fire with multiple rocket-launchers on the Congo-Brazzaville capital today AFP reported, but shells fired from Brazzaville again hit the city for the third consecutive day. The barrage by the DRC army was in retaliation for the deaths of 21 people killed in Kinshasa by artillery salvoes on Monday and Tuesday from across the river that separates the two countries. According to humanitarian sources, mortar rounds fired from Brazzaville landed in Kinshasa's city centre today but no casualties were reported. The city is reportedly calm. An independent source in Brazzaville told AFP that at least one shell fired by the DRC army had fallen in the Congolese capital's southern Bacongo district, causing no known casualties. Other shells landed in the river, the source said. UN Security Council President Bill Richardson on Tuesday urged all parties to exercise restraint.

Brazzaville premier blames DSP for Kinshasa shelling

Congo-Brazzaville Premier Bernard Kolelas said there was "convincing proof" that elements loyal to late Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko were responsible for this week's shelling of Kinshasa. Kolelas arrived in the DRC on Tuesday to express his "heartfelt" sympathy for the 21 deaths, Kinshasa TV reported. He said the shelling had come from the northern quarters of Brazzaville under the control of former president Denis Sassou Nguesso. However, a source in Brazzaville quoted by AFP claimed that at least one 122 mm cannon was fired on Kinshasa on Monday from a position held by government forces near the headquarters of the presidency. Humanitarian sources also told IRIN that artillery had been fired at Kinshasa from President Pascal Lissouba's southern stronghold.

Kolelas, interviewed by the TV station, denied reports that along with Sassou Nguesso, Lissouba had also employed former soldiers of the Zairean special presidential division (DSP). He said the ex-DSP had arrived in Brazzaville as refugees, and although Lissouba had wanted them to move on, "they had to stay under terms which we had to sign." Kolelas however acknowledged that Hutu Interahamwe militia and ex-Rwandan government soldiers (FAR) were fighting on both sides of the four-month conflict.

Sassou Nguesso spokesman denies responsibility

A spokesman for Sassou Nguesso's Forces democratiques unies (FDU) today denied government allegations that his party was responsible for the shelling of Kinshasa or had recruited former DSP soldiers. Isidore Mvouba told Radio France Internationale that "Mr Lissouba is assiduously courting (DRC) President Kabila in order to bring his Alliance of Democratic Forces into the Brazzaville conflict."

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Food distribution begins for thousands of displaced

The first large-scale food distribution for thousands of people in Pointe-Noire displaced by the fierce fighting in Brazzaville began today, WFP reported. There are some 14,000 people classified as the most vulnerable in the southern city and will receive a one-month food ration. Distribution teams will proceed to four other major towns in the region to reach a further 60,000 displaced. According to WFP, 250,000 people have fled Brazzaville through Pointe Noire since fighting erupted in the capital. Some 80,000 are believed to have remained in the port city while others have moved into the southern provinces.

RWANDA: Kigali gears up for food shortages

Rwanda's Interior Minister Sheikh Abdul Karim Harerimana met the country's prefects on Tuesday to draw up plans to cope with food shortages emerging in some regions, Rwandan state radio said. The prefects were asked to conduct a census of needy populations; organise a fair food distribution system; create food-for-work programmes; cultivate available marshes and valleys; and make daily reports to the authorities, the radio reported. WFP, while stating there are no signs of famine in Rwanda at the moment, said on Tuesday there "are clearly pockets of problems in Rwanda and many people who are finding it difficult to cope right now."

The country's rainy season is two weeks late and WFP said it was "very concerned by a sharp rise in food prices". Two eastern prefectures - Umutara and Kibungo - have seen a doubling of their populations since the return of 1.3 million refugees to the country at the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997. The last harvest, although 10 percent better than the previous year's, was unable to compensate for such a large population increase. There are also traditionally food-insecure prefectures such as Gitarama, Gikongoro, Butare and Kigali Rural which have experienced a particularly harsh dry season this year. WFP said it is aware of these problems and has been running programmes throughout the country to assist the most vulnerable members of the population.

SUDAN: US embassy opening postponed

Under pressure from Congress, the US State Department on Tuesday reversed its decision to re-open its embassy in Sudan to allow lawmakers to consider a sanctions bill against Khartoum, AFP reported. "There is still no decision to re-staff our embassy in Khartoum," spokesman James Rubin said. Senators are considering measures to punish Sudan for its poor human rights record and failure to engage in a serious effort to end the civil war, AFP said.

US accused of "acts of aggression"

Sudan's Foreign Minister has accused the United States of "an act of agression" by increasing military aid to hostile neighbours Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Ali Osman Mohammad Taha told the London-based Arabic daily 'al-Hayat' that "increasing military aid falls in the category of increasing conflict in the region, it doesn't help solve anything." Last week US officials announced Washington was seeking to boost non-lethal military aid to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda to contain Sudanese-sponsored insurgencies, Reuters said. Taha complained the move was "absolutely unjustified".

Arms shipments from Asia alleged

A former Sudanese envoy in Malaysia has alleged the embassy in Kuala Lumpur has been coordinating arms deals with east Asian suppliers and reached an agreement with a Malaysian company to covertly ship the weapons to Sudan. The ex-attache, Abd al-Aziz Kattab, resigned and defected on Monday to the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA). According to NDA radio monitored by the BBC, he claimed that Khartoum was planning to buy "heavy weapons" from China, Indonesia and the Russian mafia. Meanwhile, Sudan's National Assembly on Monday approved additional finances for security which would be paid for by cuts of 12 percent in other areas of government spending, the official Sudanese News Agency said. The report did not specify the new security expenditure which is to cover the period July-December.

[Correction: FHI is the acronym for Food for the Hungry as opposed to Feed the Hungry as carried in Emergency Update 248. FHI also points out that the plane mentioned in the item was not chartered by the organisation.]

Nairobi, 1 October 1997, 15:00 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this report, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to]

Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 18:57:12 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 260 for 1 Oct 1997 97.10.1 Message-ID: <>

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

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