Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 306, 12/4/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 306, 12/4/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Update No. 306 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 4 December 1997)

RWANDA: Rebels spring more prisoners

Hutu rebels sprang another prison yesterday (Wednesday) in central Rwanda, freeing at least 500 inmates, military sources said. Some 300 Interahamwe militia reportedly attacked the prison in Bulinga, Gitarama prefecture, setting fire to the jail and then disappearing into the surrounding hills, before soldiers arrived on the scene. Six people were killed in the attack, according to Rwandan radio. Army troops are combing the hills to rout the rebels and Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema visited the area to urge vigilance among the people. The raid follows a similar one in Gisenyi prefecture on Tuesday when 103 prisoners were freed in an attack on a jail in Rwerere. The latest raid in central Rwanda, away from traditional northwest areas, has led to fears the rebels are increasing their sphere of activity.

Former interior minister Seth Sendashonga told IRIN the prison raid was significant "in that what was viewed as a border insurgency has struck in the heart of the country." He added that Hutu disenchantment with the government was countrywide rather than just confined to the northwest due to the "revenge trap" the authorities have fallen into, in which all Hutus are viewed as potential enemies. The tragedy of Rwanda, he said, was the population is "sandwiched between two extremist blocs that hold guns" - the Tutsi political leadership and the rebels.

UN human rights commissioner due in Kigali

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson was due in Kigali today (Thursday) on a four-day official visit. She is expected to discuss the volatile situation in northwest Rwanda and human rights issues in the country. She recently said the human rights situation in Rwanda had "worsened considerably" since the beginning of the year.

Thousands of mines defused but some areas still badly affected

Rwanda's National Demining Office announced that since 1995, about 6,000 out of 100,000 mines have been defused. The mines were planted during the country's civil war that began in 1990. The head of the Office noted some parts of the country, such as Byumba, Mutara and Kigali prefectures, were still heavily mined, Rwandan radio reported.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Army show of support for Kabila

Military units in Bukavu marched in support of President Laurent-Desire Kabila yesterday, DRC radio reported. It said the march also expressed anger against "people of bad faith" who had been distributing leaflets calling for a strike to protest against the authorities. "It (the strike) has not taken place because people did not heed the call", the radio said. Meanwhile, the Kinshasa authorities have told local journalists they must choose between working for the state media or for foreign radios. They are no longer authorised to hold the two jobs. However, the ban on FM foreign radio broadcasts was lifted today.

Amnesty report slammed

The DRC information ministry has accused Amnesty International of trying to discredit the country after it published a report on an alleged massacre carried out by government forces. In a preliminary report, the French section of the human rights group claimed forces loyal to Kabila were responsible for the massacre in northwest Wendji on 13 May and called for an "extensive enquiry". The DRC information ministry statement dubbed Amnesty an "enemy of the Congolese people", saying the report was released to coincide with a DRC donor meeting underway in Brussels. The statement added that the publication was part of a French-led campaign against the country. The 'Friends of Congo' meeting in Brussels today agreed in principle on a World Bank proposal to create a trust fund for the DRC, Reuters reported.

UN team members arrive in Mbandaka A preparatory team of the UN mission investigating alleged human rights violations arrived in the northwest town of Mbandaka yesterday. Mission spokesman Jose Diaz told IRIN the advance team was now "trying to figure out how to take care of the full mission going on Friday or Saturday." "There is no food and no lodging" in Mbandaka, he said. The full mission is expected to be 10-15 strong, comprising mainly human rights investigation officers and forensic experts.

BURUNDI: Boost for education, finance ministries' budget

The government has fixed a draft budget for next year which is lower than the current one due to continuing devaluation of the Burundian france and price increases. Allocations to the education and finance ministries will be increased. Finance Minister Gerard Niyibigira said the sum of 72 billion francs, the same as last year, represented less in real terms, and called on Burundians to prepare to tighten their belts.

UN Special Rapporteur due to visit

The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Burundi, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, is expected to visit the country for the first time this year from 6 to 21 December, a UNHCHR official told IRIN. His latest interim report (released last month and available from IRIN) documents a series of attempts to visit Burundi earlier this year that were unsuccessful. The report also expressed "surprise" at media reports that the Burundian authorities had asked for his mandate to be ended.

UGANDA: Rebels abduct eight

Rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) abducted eight civilians from a camp in western Uganda on Monday, the independent 'Monitor' newspaper reported. It said the rebels pounced on the unsuspecting civilians as they were collecting wood in mountains around the Musana camp in Kyondo, Bukonzo district.

UGANDA/KENYA: Thousands displaced by flooding

Up to 150,000 people are believed to have been displaced by heavy flooding in Uganda, according to a UN report. Serious floods have been reported in western parts of the country. In Bundibugyo for example, an estimated 1,000 people have been displaced and millions of shillings worth of damage caused to crops and properties. DHA-Geneva has appealed for US $3,983,500 to provide assistance to flood-hit areas of Kenya. The current short rains season has seen exceptionally heavy rainfall, in many areas the most intense in 40 years. Worst-hit are Coast, Northeastern and Eastern provinces.

Sudanese refugees flock to Kitgum

About 1,700 Sudanese refugees, mostly women and children, have flocked into the northern Kitgum district fleeing war and famine at home, the 'Monitor' reported today. It said they had come from Tolit in southern Sudan and were being kept at Agolo town. The newspaper quoted UNHCR in Kampala as saying the refugees started arriving around 23 November, and their nutritional status was found to be quite good.

Nairobi, 4 December 1997, 14:45 gmt


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Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 18:05:32 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 306 97.12.4 Message-ID: <>

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

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