Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 317, 12/19/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 317, 12/19/97

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. 317 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 19 December 1997)

UGANDA: Army pursues rebels in DRC

Ugandan troops have again entered the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in pursuit of rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The official 'New Vision' daily reports that one of the ADF's bases was "annihilated" by a joint attack by Ugandan Army and DRC forces in the Kamango hills. An assortment of military hardware was also seized.

WFP appeals for victims of civil strife

WFP today launched an appeal for $12.8 million for emergency food aid to help victims of the conflict in northern Uganda. In the districts of Gulu and Kitgum, 257,600 Ugandans are displaced, and WFP is seeking to supply them with 21,044 mt of food in the six-month period before the next harvest. In the latest reported attack, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) abducted five youths from Koro area, eight km east of Gulu town, on Tuesday, accoring to the Ugandan 'Monitor' today.

Cholera outbreak continues

The number of cholera cases in Kampala has risen to 214, medical officials told the 'New Vision' today. "The crisis has not yet been contained", the paper quotes a Mulago hospital official saying.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN human rights team held up again

Referring to the latest delays in the work of the UN human rights investigation team in DRC, UN Spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said yesterday that the next few days would be "critical for establishing some kind of definite solution to this impasse." The team withdrew from Mbandaka and Wendji in northwestern DRC this week after large protest demonstrations by local people. PANA reported DRC's ambassador to the UN, Andre Kapanga, saying on Wednesday that the protests were in reaction to the killings of Congolese refugees at Mudende in Rwanda. Demands for money and other items from the team were made so that customary rituals could be performed prior to the exhumation of bodies, he said.

Human rights organization says situation "dangerous"

Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed in a report released yesterday that the political and civil situation in the Congo is "dangerous for the average Congolese". The report, which covers the DRC government's human rights performance since taking over power in May 1997, alleges that the government has failed to respect rights of association, assembly and expression and calls for reforms in the actions of the judiciary and security services. HRW states that the government has not integrated its forces under a "unifed command structure" and that clashes within the military have led to the deaths of civilians.

RWANDA: US official calls for better security for refugees

David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, who has been in northwestern Rwanda on behalf of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright reported a "marked failure" on the part of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) to protect the refugees attacked at Mudende camp during the night of December 10. State Department spokesman James Rubin said in a statement yesterday that Scheffer had determined that 327 refugees were killed during the attack, and that it was probably launched by ex-FAR and Interahamwe from the DRC. Scheffer's report also indicates that 460 prisoners may have been freed from the local cachot (communal lockup), about 1.5 km from the camp during the raid. The work of the Gisenyi hospital, treating 267 severly wounded people from the attack he described as "heroic". Scheffer was also taken to the caves at Kanama, north of Gisenyi, to check allegations of killings of civilians there by the RPA earlier in the year. He reports that the RPA say 60-120 insurgents were pursued into the caves on October 26 and 27. While there are "some dead bodies" in the caves, the report continues, "there is no visible evidence that there were mass killings of hundreds or thousands" of Rwandan citizens as alleged by non-governmental sources.

Amnesty issues new report

Amnesty International has released a new report on Rwanda which documents alleged human rights abuses both by armed insurgents and the RPA. It includes an account of the events at the Kanama caves, which it describes as a massacre of civilians sheltering there. It also alleges that a "massive reprisal operation" took place on 11 December, the morning after the Mudende massacre, in which Tutsi civilians and the RPA "indiscriminately and systematically" killed unarmed Hutu civilians. "The gravity and brutality of killings by one side can never justify reporsals against civilians by the other side," the report states. As one of many recommendations in today's report, which updates another published on September 25 entitled 'Ending the Silence', Amnesty criticizes foreign governments close to the Rwandese government for their "prolonged inaction and refusal to recognize the gravity of the human rights situation".

RWANDA-DRC: Tripartite meeting held with UNHCR

The governments of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda met with UNHCR representatives in Gisenyi, northwestern Rwanda yesterday. According to Radio Rwanda, agreement was reached in principle on the voluntary repatriation of the Congolese refugees in Rwanda. But a UNHCR spokesperson told IRIN today that it is evaluating more secure and appropriate temporary sites to house the refugees within Rwanda while elements of the repatriation are prepared on both sides of the border. Several hundred refugees trying to cross back into DRC returned to Rwanda on Wednesday night after encountering groups of hostile local Congolese people at the border.

KENYA: UNHCR launches airlift

UNHCR announced today it had started an airlift to deliver emergency relief to 123,000 refugees stranded in Kenya's northeastern camps. The camps have been cut off since late November when heavy rains cut roads into the region. WFP had launched an airlift on 10 December for flood-stricken Kenyans in the northeast and WFP's first flight to bring food for refugees landed earlier this week. UNHCR estimates that roads cannot be re-opened before February at the earliest.

GREAT LAKES: Representative of the UN Secretary-General endorsed

Berhanu Dinka has been endorsed as the UN Secretary-General's Representative and Regional Humanitarian Advisor for the Great Lakes region. The UN Security Council has agreed with proposals put forward by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 12 December, which also redefine the role of Mohamed Sahnoun. Sahnoun will act as Annan's Special Envoy in Africa on an "as and when employed basis".

UN Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal for the Great Lakes update

Of a total requirement of US $324.5 million for 1997, UN agencies have received funds of US $280 million. Other programmes, falling outside of the appeal, including activities in Rwanda, the work of NGOs and the Red Cross, have received US $228 million, according to figures provided by donors to DHA's Financial Tracking Unit.

Nairobi, December 19 1997, 15:00 GMT


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Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 18:25:20 -0300 (GMT+3) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 317 19 Dec 97.12.19 Message-ID: <>

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

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