Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 314, 12/16/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 314, 12/16/97

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. 314 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 16 December 1997)

RWANDA: Interior ministers discuss fate of refugees

The interior ministers of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda, Mwenze Kongolo and Sheikh Abdul Karim Harerimana, yesterday (Monday) examined the options of repatriating Congolese survivors of Thursday's Mudende refugee camp massacre to Masisi or their relocation in Rwanda. Bilateral delegations are expected to meet again tomorrow (Wednesday). A UNHCR spokeswoman told IRIN the agency's prime concern is the "guaranteed safety for the refugees". She pointed out that if they were to be repatriated, UNHCR's job would be complicated by the lack of a presence in Goma. Some 17,000 Congolese Tutsi refugees were sheltering in Mudende before the attack on the camp by Hutu rebels and local people. There are unconfirmed reports of Mudende residents fleeing into the DRC.

Army repulses attack on transit centre

Humanitarian sources today (Tuesday) described the security situation in northwest Rwanda as "still very volatile". An attempted rebel attack on a transit centre at Nkamira, a few kilometres from Mudende in Gisenyi prefecture, was beaten off by the army on Saturday, the sources said. Nkamira shelters three separate populations: internally displaced people, villagers from the surrounding area, and people who fled Mudende.

Official death toll in Mudende massacre rises to 317

The official death toll in the Mudende massacre has risen to 317 after 15 people died of their wounds in hospital, Rwandan radio said yesterday. Kinshasa claimed over the weekend that as many as 1,643 people were killed in the attack. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that figure was based on a head count by refugee leaders in the aftermath of the raid, but refugees had scattered and are only now being identified.

Kigali calls for international community to accept its responsibilities

Kigali on Monday said the international community was partly to blame for the Mudende massacre by failing to halt the arms trade in the region, AFP reported. Education Minister Joseph Karamera called on the international community to "take up its responsibilities in the face of the massacres ... like punishing whoever helps (the rebels)." Presidential adviser, Joseph Bideri, stressed the violence in northwest Rwanda "is simply the continuation of the genocide," the private Rwanda News Agency reported. He also accused France and Belgium of sowing the seeds of ethnic hatred.

The President of the UN Security Council Fernando Berrocal Soto said in a press briefing yesterday that council members "strongly condemned" the "brutal massacre" at Mudende. He said the members were concerned over the deteriorating security situation in Rwanda, but urged the government to respect all human rights, "in particular, when performing its counter-insurgency operations."

EU envoy arrives in Rwanda

Aldo Ajello, the EU's Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region arrived in Kigali yesterday for a three-day official visit. AFP quoted a source in his delegation as saying his itinerary had not been settled. In Brussels on Monday, Emma Bonino, the EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, described the Mudende assault as a "shameful and barbarous act of cowardice." She called for "more national and international energies and resources (to) be devoted to reconciliation and peace-building." She added: "Rwanda has seen enough blood and massacres," AFP reported.

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has instructed David Scheffer, US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues, to travel to Mudende to assist in the investigation of the massacre. (This corrects IRIN Emergency Update 313).

UN General Assembly considers US $59 million budget for Rwanda tribunal

According to a PANA report from New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is asking the General Assembly to approve US $59 million for the 1998 operations of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The request reflects an increase of almost 47 percent compared with the 1997 appropriation, the news agency said. Two courtrooms are expected to be in full operation, enabling the simultaneous holding of proceedings.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN probe team withdraws from Mbandaka

A UN spokesman said in New York yesterday the UN human rights investigative team to the DRC was evacuated from Mbandaka at the weekend owing to "serious security concerns" arising from a large demonstration outside their camp. The situation would be assessed before a decision to return to Mbandaka was made.

Zairean generals arrested in South Africa over anti-Kabila plot

Three senior military figures in the Mobutu regime, allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, were arrested near Johannesburg on Saturday, the South African news agency SAPA reported yesterday. The three generals, Mavua Madima, Kpama Baramoto and Ngbane Nzimbi, are being held on charges relating to entering the country with illegal passports. They had left for the DRC on Friday and returned to South Africa the following day. Madima was the former defence minister, Baramoto the head of the civil guard and Nzimbi the commander of the special presidential division. Foreign ministry spokesman Marco Boni said no formal request for the men's extradition had yet been received.

The three have denied media allegations they were planning to assassinate Kabila, the South African representative of the radical opposition Union pour la Democratie et le Progres Social (UPDS) told Radio France Internationale. Kimwana Kayem, who met the three, said their arrest was due to "an immigration error". He added the issue of their extradition "is null and void" as South Africa has no extradition treaty with the Kinshasa. However, DRC Justice Minister Celestin Lwangy said in Kinshasa "extradition is a political matter," Reuters reported.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Sassou Nguesso visits Paris to drum up aid support

Congo-Brazzaville's leader Denis Sassou Nguesso headed for France on Monday for a "private trip" that will include talks with President Jacques Chirac and premier Lionel Jospin. AFP reported that Sassou Nguesso is expected to ask Paris for backing in raising foreign funds during his week-long visit, notably for rebuilding the capital Brazzaville. "The meetings will enable us to emphasise the value we attach to Congo, under his leadership, finding the path of democracy and good government," foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret said.

BURUNDI: Rights group deplores allegations of army brutality

A report on the plight of Burundian refugees in Tanzania by Refugees International has condemned alleged human rights abuses by the Burundian army. The US-based rights group cited interviews with recently arrived refugees from eastern Burundi who accused the army of executions of family members, the round-up of men in the communes and the burning of homes and fields. The "allegations together paint a compelling picture of a citizenry being terrorised by the army," the report released yesterday said. The organisation also slammed Tanzania's 'systematic' forced repatriation of refugees.

WFP's internal flights resume

The European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), has confirmed funding to restart internal air operations for aid agencies in Burundi, a WFP report said. The funding is expected to cover four months of operations.

UGANDA: Flooding wreaks havoc

In a preliminary damage assessment, the UN Disaster Management Team says flooding/landslides in Uganda have claimed at least 33 lives, affected 50,000 people, ruined 3,500 mt of maize and 2,000 hectares of farm land. A report released by DHA Geneva on Friday noted that eight bridges have been confirmed destroyed and some 31 rail wagons loaded with WFP food stranded at Malaba, on the Kenyan side of the border. A WFP report also said that road conditions have "seriously deteriorated" in western Uganda, cutting off the town of Bundibugyo and hampering food deliveries to 55,000 displaced.

Cholera hits Kampala

The state-owned 'New Vision' said today that 70 people suffering from cholera have been admitted to Mulago Hospital in Kampala. The paper said the disease has hit 14 suburbs of the city, and three people are reported to have died.

ANGOLA: Luanda claims 34,000 UNITA soldiers unaccounted for

According to Angolan state television, UNITA's official figure of 2,000 undemobilised soldiers "has steadily risen to 8,000 and is growing." Sunday's TV broadcast said the likelihood is that the real figure is far greater, and claimed that more than 26,000 UNITA soldiers have deserted from their confinement areas.

AFRICA: The malnutrition scourge

The 1998 State of the World's Children Report released by UNICEF today warns that malnutrition contributes to nearly seven million child deaths annually - more than any infectious disease, war or natural disaster. Where it does not kill, malnutrition can leave victims physically maimed or intellectually impaired. "While malnutrition has long been recognised as a consequence of poverty, it is increasingly clear that it is also a cause," UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in a press release.

Nairobi, 16 December 1997, 15:00 gmt


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Date: Tue, 16 Dec 1997 18:24:00 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 314 16 Dec 97.12.16 Message-ID: <>

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

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