Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 312, 12/12/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 312, 12/12/97

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. 312 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 12 December 1997)

RWANDA: Rebels kill at least 231 in refugee camp attack

At least 231 Tutsi refugees were killed and 207 wounded in an attack by Hutu rebels on a refugee camp yesterday (Thursday) in northwest Rwanda, a UNHCR spokeswoman told IRIN. The camp at Mudende, in Gisenyi prefecture, housed some 17,000 refugees mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Ninety percent of the wounded taken to Gisenyi hospital had machete wounds, the spokeswoman added. The attack took place between 2:00 a.m and 4:00 a.m, sending survivors fleeing to Nkamira and Gisenyi town. A UN inter-agency team is visiting the area today (Friday). Thursday's attack follows a raid on Mudende in August in which 131 refugees were killed. The camp is only eight km from the DRC border. UNHCR requested relocation of the camp after the August attack and the local authorities had recently agreed, the spokeswoman said. An earlier attempt to transfer the refugees to Kibuye failed when they returned to Mudende, preferring to remain close to Masisi.

Albright backs government with aid pledge

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Thursday pledged US support to Rwanda and said the country's future was critical to the region, AFP reported. At a joint press conference with President Pasteur Bizimungu, she condemned hardline Hutu rebels for failing to choose peace and national unity. However, AFP said, she stressed the need for justice in Rwanda and "the importance of providing security without harm to non-combatants" - a reference to civilians killed in the army's counter-insurgency operations. She noted that Washington plans to release US $3.9 million in aid for army demobilisation, the education of repatriated refugees and the promotion of democracy and reconciliation.

Army clashes with rebels fleeing Bukavu

Kigali radio reported a clash yesterday in southwestern Rwanda between the army and a 500-strong rebel group that had crossed Lake Kivu from the DRC. According to security sources, the rebels were part of a combined force of Mai-Mai, ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia that were driven out of Bukavu on Thursday after attacking the town. The report said the rebels fled into the forest around Cyangugu after an exchange of fire with the army, but gave no casualty figures.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Governor thanks Bukavu residents

South Kivu's vice-governor Benjamin Serukiza said over Congolese radio on Thursday the situation in Bukavu was under control after the rebels' dawn attack was beaten back by the DRC army. He thanked the population "who did not listen to the enemy, who only want to divide our united people". Mai-Mai rebels operate a clandestine radio station 'Patriot' and broadcast calls for rebellion during Thursday's attack. The interim commander of the 222nd brigade in Bukavu said on state radio, monitored by the BBC, that five rebels were killed in the fighting and one wounded. He said the rebels, numbering some 300 and carrying no more than 50 guns between them, had raided Bukavu on their way to Rwanda. The Mai-Mai are composed of a variety of opponents of the DRC government, including ex-FAZ, ex-FAR, Burundian Hutu rebels, and Interahamwe militia members.

No fighting in Uvira

Reports in IRIN Emergency Update 311 of fighting spreading south to Uvira from Bukavu were inaccurate. Aid sources said there were no signs of fighting in or around Uvira up to this morning. However, aid workers said there were a higher number of checkpoints than usual on the road to Bukavu. Local officials admitted to IRIN this week there are tensions in the area particularly between Banyamulenge and other ethnic groups.

US says it working on big aid package

Albright said in Kinshasa on Friday that the US was working on a US $35-40 million aid package for DRC, Reuters reported. It said the money would come on top of a US $10 million contribution Albright announced on Tuesday that Washington would grant the former Zaire through a World Bank trust fund. Speaking after talks with President Laurent-Desire Kabila, Albright said the US administration would prepare the package jointly with Congress, which has demanded assurances that Kabila is respecting democracy and human rights before sending aid. Albright said the money would be used for infrastructure, health care, water projects and rebuilding a bridge destroyed by the forces of ousted President Mobutu Sese Seko.

Protestors force UN team to suspend work

UN human rights investigators are expected to start work today in Wendji, southwest of Mbandaka, after protestors forced them to suspend assessing an alleged massacre site on Thursday. Mission spokesman Jose Diaz told IRIN the investigators had been "followed around by a group of demonstrators". Their deployment had been delayed earlier in the day by government liaison officials. Diaz said the UN team had complained to the authorities over the incident. Work went ahead in Mbandaka yesterday, with UN investigators "familiarising themselves" with the area, Diaz said.

ANGOLA: UNITA says Annan report "unfortunate"

The Angolan armed opposition movement UNITA described as "unfortunate" a report by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which he accused the movement of delaying the implementation of the peace accord, AFP reported from Lisbon. "UNITA wants to make clear its deep concern because the report of the UN Secretary-General appears to herald new sanctions against the party and confirms the irresponsible withdrawal of MONUA [the UN Observer Mission in Angola] which leaves the country in a dangerously explosive situation conducive to the advent of a totalitarian regime," a UNITA statement said.

TANZANIA: Paris Club pledges US $1 billion

The Paris club of Western donors pledged yesterday to lend Tanzania US $1 billion dollars to fund its development programmes, AFP quoted a World Bank official as saying. At the donor consultative meeting, held for the first time in Tanzania, "donors confirmed their willingness to increase sector support for education and health, as well as roads, once improved implementation arrangements are put in place by the government," the World Bank country director James Adams said. A number of donors also said they would consider participating in a "multilateral debt fund" as suggested earlier this week by President Benjamin Mkapa.

KENYA: WFP begins airlift of aid to flood victims

WFP yesterday started an airlift to provide urgently-needed food rations and emergency supplies to flood victims in the seven worst-hit areas of Kenya. The agency said in a press release the one-month operation would deliver 1,000 mt of high energy biscuits, bulk foods, blankets, medicines, plastic sheeting, seeds, cooking sets, kerosene and other relief supplies at a cost of about US $7.2 million. The airlift will assist 295,000 flood victims in the districts of Tana River, Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Moyale, Marsabit and Isiolo, which have suffered severe flood damage from unusually heavy rains that began last month.

Nairobi, 12 December 1997 15:30 gmt


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Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 19:16:15 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 312 97.12.12 Message-ID: <>

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

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