Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 293, 11/17/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 293, 11/17/97

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

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IRIN Update No. 293 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 15-17 November 1997)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Hutus expelled from east

Humanitarian sources report that the Burundian and Rwandan armies, with the backing of the DRC authorities, have begun a sweep to expel Hutus settled around Uvira and Bukavu. More than 2,000 people have been rounded up in the past two weeks and taken across either the Burundian or Rwandan border. Among them are old-caseload refugees who have been in the country since 1959. Some Congolese have also been caught up in the purge. The sweep was described as "very systematic" with people picked up from their homes and taken to a holding centre before being deported with "little but their clothes on their back." Sources said that panicked refugees have taken to sleeping in the bush. One aid worker told IRIN: "the authorities continue to tell us they are infiltrators, thieves, who have been stealing cattle. But surely five-year-old children are not infiltrators, thieves or bandits." The Burundians have been transported to the troubled northern provinces of Cibitoke and Bubanza. "It is not exactly clear what's happening when they are sent back," one source said. A senior Burundian government official said he was not aware of the reports.

UN mission fails to meet government

The UN human rights mission to DRC failed to meet with the Kinshasa authorities on Monday as scheduled. The meeting with the government's liaison committee was postponed to a later date. "No date was given for this meeting", AFP quoted UN team spokesman Jose Diaz as saying.

DRC pulls out of Francophonie

President Laurent-Desire Kabila announced at the weekend he will pull the DRC out of the Francophonie group of countries. "The Democratic Republic of Congo refuses to be part of any cultural bloc whatsoever, and does not want to belong to any French sphere of influence," he said on state television. Kabila described the Francophonie as an "extension of neo-colonialism", news agencies reported. French President Jacques Chirac said at the Francophonie summit in Hanoi that the DRC's decision was a matter for the organisation's new secretary-general, Boutros Boutros-Ghali. The DRC is the largest and most populated francophone country in Africa.

BURUNDI: New rebel group kills nine

At least nine people were killed and 10 wounded when an armed gang carried out an attack on Thursday night at Kinyami in Cibitoke, state radio reported. The radio identified the attackers as belonging to the "Benjamin" group. According to AFP, the group is named after its leader Benjamin, who fought in the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD). He is said to have stolen arms from the CNDD before starting his own group. The gang is believed responsible for the killing of 50 civilians in Cibitoke since last month.

RWANDA: Government battling 15,000 rebels

The Rwandan army is confronting over 15,000 rebels in the country's northwest, the region's army commander told AFP. Colonel Kayumba Nyamwase said that among the 1.3 million refugees who returned to Rwanda from the DRC and Tanzania were "over 5,000 ex-FAR" soldiers. Since the end of 1996, "only 10 to 15 percent of them are still at home," Kayumba said. "The others are fighting us."

Over 30 reported massacred in northwest

More than 30 people died on Thursday when gunmen in civilian clothes attacked a market in Giciye, in the northwestern Gisenyi region. Radio Rwanda reported on Saturday that the "bandits" also killed two children in a raid on a girls secondary school. They then fled into the Gishwati forest after clashing with the army.

On Friday, two civilians were killed and five vehicles destroyed in a rebel ambush six km from Ruhengeri on the road to Gisenyi. Humanitarian sources told IRIN it was the closest an attack has come to Ruhengeri in several months.

Meanwhile, at least 66 people, mostly civilians, have died since the beginning of October in the continuing insecurity in western Rwanda, AFP reported sources as saying on Friday. The stepped-up fighting in the region is related to the army's "growing military presence in the northwest, which is forcing the rebels to move southwards," one western analyst told the news agency. In recent weeks, tracts urging Hutu armed struggle and the massacre or expulsion of minority Tutsis have begun appearing in the northwest.

ANGOLA: UN halts demobilisation in Jamba

The UN said on Friday it was halting the demobilisation of troops from the former rebel movement UNITA in the southern town of Jamba following an assault on two UN staff. A Zambian soldier and a UN employee handling the reintegration of civilians were wounded on Wednesday by UNITA supporters, AFP said. The UN announced it had lodged a strong protest with UNITA.

Meanwhile, the government on Friday accused UNITA of shelling several villages in the southern province of Huila forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes. UNITA for its part claimed Luanda was preparing to attack the northern districts of Kimbele and Makele do Zombo "to impose state rule there by force," AFP reported.

KENYA: Flooding threatens thousands with hunger

The privately-owned 'Sunday Nation' said that "thousands of people" in the northeastern Tana River District are "facing starvation" following flooding which has submerged villages and fields. The paper said an estimated 60,000 people need assistance. Government attempts to supply food to the district have been hampered by the damage to roads and bridges. A two kg packet of maize flour currently sells for more than triple its normal price.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Cobra militiamen demand army jobs

Militiamen loyal to President Denis Sassou Nguesso demonstrated on Sunday to demand their inclusion in the national army, government radio reported. Radio-Liberte said the militiamen fired into the air during the protest. "We are shooting to make the military authorities understand that we want to get into barracks, like some of our comrades," an unidentified militiaman told the radio station. The day after Sassou Nguesso seized power in October part of his Cobra militia was assigned to barracks as a prelude to entry into the army and gendarmerie, AFP said. Other soldiers were dismissed and ordered to return to their families.

BURUNDI/TANZANIA: UN plans border mission as tension rises

The UN is planning the despatch of a special mission to the Burundi/Tanzania border in response to the tension between the two countries. The fact-finding mission will involve the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, UNHCR and DHA.

TANZANIA: Mkapa re-elected party chairman

Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa has been re-elected chairman of the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). State radio said he polled 99.9 percent of the votes cast on Thursday night by some 1,500 delegates attending the party conference.

UNITED NATIONS: De Mello new Emergency Relief Coordinator

Sergio Vieira De Mello has been appointed as the new UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. His appointment takes effect on 1 January 1998. "I hope to contribute modestly my field experience in humanitarian and peace-keeping operations to strengthening the Office of the Emergency Relief Coordinator", De Mello said after his posting was announced in New York on Friday. "It is essential that the new Office be an effective support mechanism to those operational agencies that actually do the work on the ground." De Mello, a Brazilian national, is presently serving as the UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees at the rank of Assistant Secretary-General. He is the UNHCR- designated regional humanitarian coordinator for the Great Lakes region. De Mello will succeed Yasushi Akashi as Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Nairobi, 17 November 1997, 15:00 gmt


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Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 18:41:23 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 293 97.11.17 Message-ID: <>

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

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