Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 319, 12/23/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 319, 12/23/97

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. 319 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 23 December 1997)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN pulls aid workers out of Baraka

Humanitarian sources told IRIN today (Tuesday) that aid workers pulled out of Baraka in eastern DRC yesterday (Monday) morning as reports reached them of an infiltration of the town by rebels known as Mai-Mai. The situation was further complicated by a landslide on the road between Baraka and the town of Uvira which they were trying to reach. The road was cleared with equipment operated by Oxfam-Quebec. Sources in the area confirm that gunshots were heard around Baraka yesterday, but little further detail is available. UNHCR has decided to delay the latest group of Congolese returnees who were due to arrive from Kigoma, Tanzania and land for the first time directly at the newly-rehabilitated port at Baraka this week.

Kabila orders cabinet reshuffle

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila has ordered a government reshuffle which will come into effect from 3 January, AFP reported. It said government spokesman Raphael Ghenda said on Monday the reshuffle was justified by an "upturn in the economy" and because "law and order" had been established in the country. No other details, such as any ministerial changes, were given. The government, meanwhile, announced it would not accept Belgium's attempts to set strict conditions to any aid disbursements it may agree to provide.

Press body says journalist detained

A journalist working for DRC state radio and television has been detained in the eastern city of Goma for the past week, a press freedoms watchdog body said on Monday. "We have learnt with consternation of the arrest of our colleague, Pontien Tshisungu, and demand his return to Kinshasa," Free Media-Media for All said in a statement. The group said Tshisungu was detained after reporting an attack on the entourage of Interior Minister Mwenze Kongolo during a recent visit to north Kivu province. The minister immediately denied the reported attack.

RWANDA: UNHCR moves more Mudende survivors to new camp

UNHCR sources told IRIN today 16 trucks carrying about 900 refugees originally from the Masisi area of eastern DRC arrived safely in Byumba prefecture of Rwanda yesterday. Another 30 vehicles are expected to go today. The refugees are the survivors of the massacre at Mudende camp on 10-11 December. The new site agreed by the Rwandan government and UNHCR at Gihembe is intended to offer better security for about 12,000 of the mainly Tutsi refugees. A UNHCR spokesperson told IRIN that all the refugees are still saying they want to go home, but no repatriation is expected until suitable security conditions are established in areas of return in DRC. The Rwandan government, as well as UNHCR, has requested guarantees of minimum security before any repatriation begins. Rwandan radio, meanwhile, reported government officials had assured people living in Ruhengeri prefecture the area was well-guarded and rumours it would shortly fall to "infiltrators and criminals" were unfounded. Several anti-Tutsi pamphlets threatening the local population have recently surfaced in the area, causing several people to flee their homes. Meanwhile, in a separate development, the UN General Assembly announced it had approved US $56.7 million for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha, Tanzania for 1998.

GREAT LAKES: Sahnoun calls for all-inclusive approach to regional problems

Mohamed Sahnoun, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Africa, has called for a comprehensive approach to the problems in the Great Lakes region, the UN said in a statement from its New York headquarters. Commenting on his briefing to a closed meeting of the Security Council yesterday, Sahnoun was quoted as saying: "I insisted on the fact that we should really look at the problems in a comprehensive manner." Sahnoun called for an approach dealing with political, humanitarian and development issues all at once. In an interview with UN Radio, Sahnoun noted that Burundi and Rwanda were among the most densely-populated countries in the world, placing great stress on scarce resources. "People feel insecure and this is one of the reasons why they fight each other or why they align themselves into ethnic or tribal groups," he said. While stressing the need to tackle the root causes of the conflicts in the Great Lakes region, Ambassador Sahnoun also called for practical, immediate measures. He drew attention to the need to address questions of governance, the flow of arms and the problem of impunity.

BURUNDI: UN envoy calls for sanctions review

A UN envoy to Burundi called yesterday (Monday) for an urgent review of economic sanctions on the African country in recognition of the government's efforts to improve security and human rights there, AFP reported. "The time has come for serious consideration of the usefulness of economic sanctions," the agency quoted UN special rapporteur on human rights in Burundi, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, as saying.

ANGOLA: UNITA orders halt to work of NGOs in Jamba

Angola's former rebel movement UNITA has ordered a halt to the work of non-governmental organisations at its jungle stronghold in southeastern Jamba, AFP quoted sources close to the movement as saying today. It said UNITA took the step after the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said last week that the area around Jamba was mined, and charged that UNITA was impeding the work of humanitarian organisations.

KENYA: Media reports say 143 now died of mystery disease

Kenya's media reported today that 143 people had now died of a mystery illness in the northeastern districts of the country. Kenyan state radio quoted North Eastern Provincial Commissioner Maurice Makhanu saying the disease had killed 73 people in Garissa and 70 in Wajir. He said symptoms included diarrhoea, high fever, vomiting of blood and nose-bleeding, but denied rumours circulating in the area that it was the deadly ebola virus.

ZANZIBAR: Radio says 14 opposition party members accused of treason

Fourteen members of the opposition Civic United Front on Zanzibar were charged with treason on Monday, Radio Tanzania Zanzibar reported. The radio, monitored by the BBC, said the 14, who include two members of the semi-autonomous island's parliament, were accused of plotting last month to overthrow the Zanzibari government of President Salmin Amour. The defendants were not allowed to plead because the case will go to the High Court. The two MPs charged are Said Yusuf Ngani and Hamad Masoud.

Nairobi, 23 December 1997 15:00 GMT


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Date: Tue, 23 Dec 1997 17:50:51 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 319 23 Dec 97.12.23 Message-ID: <>

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

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