Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 335 for 17-19 Jan 98.1.19

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 335 for 17-19 Jan 98.1.19

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. 335 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 17-19 January 1998)

RWANDA: Interahamwe kill 35 in Gisenyi attack

Interahamwe militia today (Monday) killed 35 people when they ambushed a bus carrying workers of the Rwanda Breweries Company in Gisenyi. The Rwanda News Agency said the attackers attempted to separate the employees along ethnic lines, but upon being discovered they opened fire indiscriminately and set the bus alight. Security forces were combing the area looking for possible survivors.

Four soldiers get death sentence for killing commander

Four Rwandan soldiers were sentenced to death on Friday after their appeals were overturned by a military court in Gitarama. They were charged with killing their commanding officer, Captain Theoneste Hategekimana, last year in the Gitarama-Kibuye region. The four were appealing life sentences handed down last November, but Friday's hearing ruled the sentences were insufficient punishment and issued the death penalty. Hategekimana was a member of the former Rwandan army, but was integrated into the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA). Another soldier was publicly executed on Saturday in Ruhengeri to deter crime among the military, Rwandan radio reported. The soldier confessed to killing a veterinary surgeon in Kigombe commune in order to steal his motorbike, the radio said.

Mental health service to be overhauled

Rwanda is to overhaul its mental health service to help survivors of the 1994 genocide come to terms with the trauma, AFP reported. It quoted a health ministry official, Logan Ndahiro, as saying many patients were suffering from psychosomatic conditions without being aware of the fact. Since 1995, the national traumology centre in Kigali has been training "social agents" to identify the most serious cases throughout the country and try and treat them.

Private airline launched

A private airline was launched in Rwanda last week aimed at easing air links for the landlocked country. Rwanda Airlines, owned by businessman Charles Ngarambe, signified an "unprecedented step" in breaking the country's isolation, the Rwanda News Agency reported. Ngarambe said the company had a BAC 78-seater jet which he would use to undercut other airlines operating in the region.

BURUNDI: More rebel attacks north of Bujumbura

Heavy weapons' fire rocked areas north of Bujumbura over the weekend. Burundi radio said rebels attacked the areas of Gasenyi, Gikungu and Gihosha on Sunday morning. Seven rebels were reported killed as the army repulsed the attack. Three soldiers and a civilian were injured, the radio added. Hundreds of people fled into the surrounding countryside. Local people said the attack had been expected "because so many offences had been committed in the area over the past few days". According to Burundian officials, the situation later returned to normal as the rebels retreated into the hills.

Army spokesman Colonel Isaie Nibizi, speaking on Radio France Internationale, said the fighting followed a rebel attack on a military post at Gikongo. He described the incident as minor, lasting some 30 minutes. AFP said about 500 people had sought refuge in the Johnson and Le Gentil camps, five km north of Bujumbura.

Government to attend peace talks

Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama said the Burundi government would attend a forthcoming meeting in Arusha, Tanzania to discuss the peace process in his country. The delegation would ask for lifting the sanctions on Burundi, as well as discussing troubled relations with Tanzania. According to Rwandan radio, the meeting is due to be held this week. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Pascal-Firmin Ndimira on Saturday met visiting US presidential envoy, Howard Wolpe.

KENYA: Flood death, disease toll rises

The death toll from torrential rain and floods reached at least 86 on Saturday, Kenyan television reported. Deputy Police Commissioner Geoffrey Mwathe said over 2,300 families in the northeastern Garissa area were displaced after the Tana river burst its banks. He also warned of a potential locust invasion, after large swarms were sighted on the Kenyan-Ethiopian border. WHO, in a press release on Friday, said Rift Valley fever which was reported in Northeastern Province, had now appeared in other parts of the country and neighbouring Somalia. In Kenya, parts of Eastern, Rift Valley, Central and Coast provinces are affected, including some national parks. Some 300 people have died of the disease in Kenya and WHO reports a similar number of deaths in Somalia. Malaria and cholera are not playing as great a role in the number of deaths as had been previously reported, but famine has been a significant cause of death.

Chaos as part of Nairobi-Mombasa road washed away

The main Nairobi-Mombasa road, a lifeline for regional transport, was impassable over the weekend as rains washed away a crucial bridge. According to Kenyan press reports, a 30 km jam built up on both sides of the bridge and hundreds of trucks bringing goods to and from Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda were bogged down in mud. By today, the highway was partially reopened after engineers repaired a section of the affected area.

TANZANIA: Minister warns of famine threat

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Paul Kimiti on Friday warned of the potential threat of famine due to heavy rains which had increased the numbers of vermin and insects attacking food crops. He told a donor meeting in Dar es Salaam food availability would be greatly reduced. Armyworms, rodents and locusts were destroying thousands of hectares of land across the country, he said. In Singida area alone, some 24,000 hectares had been affected. Worst-hit areas included Singida, Dodoma, Tabora, Lindi, Mtwara, Mbeya, Tanga and Morogoro.

UGANDA: 340 die from cholera

The state-owned 'New Vision' said yesterday (Sunday) at least 340 people had died from cholera since the first cases were reported last month. Another 6,574 people were said to be suffering from the disease in some 21 of Uganda's 43 administrative districts.

Rebels attack Kitgum refugee camp

NGO sources reported a rebel attack on the Acholpii refugee camp in the northern Kitgum district on Friday. The dawn attack, by members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), occurred after two groups of rebels entered the area and began looting shops. Three refugees were wounded, one seriously. The same camp was attacked in July 1996 when 110 refugees were brutally killed. The sources point out that heightened rebel activity in the Kitgum district is seriously hampering humanitarian activities. UNHCR confirmed the latest attack on the camp which houses some 18,000 Sudanese refugees and described the incident as "unacceptable".

Since late December, some 400 refugees from Rwanda and DRC, have arrived in Uganda's Kisoro district which borders the two countries. UNHCR said there were a total of 27,600 registered Rwandan and Congolese refugees in the area, plus a further 3,000 "unofficial" refugees whom it was assisting on a humanitarian basis.

Rebels regrouping in DRC

On Friday, the 'New Vision' reported over 1,000 rebels from the West Nile Bank Front were regrouping with rebels from other countries in a national park in eastern DRC. It cited security sources who said officials in Kampala had urged the DRC authorities to investigate the massing of rebels at Garamba national park. SPLA deserters, ex-FAZ and ex-FAR members are said to be among the 5,000-strong group.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Tshisekedi rally barred

Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi was prevented from holding a public meeting on Saturday after police blocked all access to the offices of his Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party. AFP said party members had been urged to rally in front of the building. On Friday, Minister of State for Internal Affairs Gaetan Kakudji warned that the ban on political parties remained in force and violators would be brought before a military court.

Lumumba assassins to be pardoned

President Laurent-Desire Kabila announced on Saturday he would pardon those responsible for the murder of Patrice Lumumba, Congo's first post-independence prime minister. However, they would first have to come foward and ask for forgiveness, he said in speech to mark the 37th anniversary of Lumumba's assassination.

Ex-Zaire diamond miners forced home from Angola

Over 9,000 diamond miners who left the former Zaire for work in Angola have fled home following attacks by the Angolan army and former rebel group UNITA. News reports quoted the prospectors as saying they had come under constant attack by both sides in the Angolan conflict. AFP said the ex-Zaire diamond miners - many of whom left in the 1970s and who marketed part of their produce in Kinshasa through networks established between UNITA and the Mobutu regime - had been caught up in a regional shift of alliances.

SUDAN: Rebels report clash with government forces

Sudanese rebels say their forces have clashed with government troops southeast of Kassala in eastern Sudan. According to opposition radio, the attack occurred on 10 January. Three people died and a military vehicle was destroyed. The opposition National Democratic Alliance stressed its capability to inflict a "crushing defeat" on the Khartoum regime, the radio said.

Nairobi, 19 January 1998, 14:00 gmt


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Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 17:10:25 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 335 for 17-19 Jan 98.1.19 Message-ID: <>

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

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