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IRIN Update No. 346 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 3 February 1998)
SUDAN: Rebels pressing ahead with Bahr el Ghazal offensive
A spokesman for the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) admitted they had lost control of the airport and military garrison at Wau in Bahr el Ghazal state, but said the installations were within striking range of rebel artillery. Opposition radio last night (Monday) said the SPLA was pressing ahead with its "full-scale offensive" in northern Bahr el Ghazal. The rebels remained at their postions within Wau, the radio said, stating that the government's claim it had recaptured the town was untrue. The SPLA also maintained its forces were in control of Aweil town, where fighting was continuing around the military garrison. The Aweil-Wau road was under the "full control" of the SPLA, according to the radio. Fighting was also underway in Gogrial town, after the rebels launched an attack on Saturday. According to Sudanese television, first Vice-President Lieutenant-General Zubayr Muhammad yesterday said security was being maintained in Wau and flights were still bringing in essential goods.
WFP airdrops food in Bahr el Gazhal
WFP today (Tuesday) began an urgent airdrop of food to some 150,000 newly-displaced people in Bahr el Ghazal. Thirty-two tonnes of food will be dropped to two locations where people have gathered, and the operation will continue on a daily basis. In a press release, WFP said the fighting had sent people fleeing in four different directions in an area already plagued by insecurity and drought.
RWANDA: ICTR expected to deliver first verdicts in June
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is expected to issue its first verdicts in June, AFP reported. It quoted deputy prosecutor Bernard Muna as saying three current genocide trials were due to end in June, including that of Jean-Paul Akayesu the former mayor of Taba who was the first to stand trial. "Rwanda is waiting for the first judgements," Muna was quoted as saying. "Since some people do not take the court seriously, these first judgements must resolve this problem."
Belgium, US, UN, France bear responsibility for genocide, report says
A Belgian parliamentary enquiry into the 1994 genocide has stated that the Belgian authorities knew the mass killings were being prepared some three months before the slaughter began. The report says Belgium had a double responsibility: firstly for not trying to prevent the massacres and secondly for launching a diplomatic initiative aimed at withdrawing UN peacekeepers from Rwanda. But the US, UN and France share responsibility because they all knew a massacre was in the making, the report stresses. Interviewed by the French daily 'Liberation', Belgian parliamentarian Alain Destexhe of the Parti liberal said he believed France and the UN should also hold enquiries into their roles at the time of the Rwandan genocide.
24 killed in mob justice
Mob justice in Butare prefecture last month resulted in 24 deaths, the Rwanda News Agency reported today. It said the victims were caught trying to steal food from plantations or from people's houses. Butare and Gikongoro prefectures in southern Rwanda have been badly hit by serious food shortages over the past few months, blamed on the climate and the mass return of refugees, RNA added.
BURUNDI: Rebels kill five
Rebels killed five people in Gatumba near Bujumbura on Sunday, Burundi radio reported. Six other people were wounded. The attackers reportedly targeted three houses belonging to members of the same family. Local people said the attackers had come from the nearby Rukoko forest.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Hundreds of Burundi refugees arrive
Some 400-500 hundred refugees from Burundi have arrived in the Uvira zone over the past few weeks, according to UNHCR. Of these, 200 arrived last Tuesday alone, but the numbers have now dwindled. UNHCR said most of the refugees were located in Sange and Kiliba, two areas north of Uvira, and many of them were being absorbed into the local communities which appeared to be working well. UNHCR added that in addition to the new arrivals, there were several hundred Burundians who had been in the Uvira area for over 30 years.
UNICEF concerned over demobilisation of child soldiers
UNICEF has expressed concern over the demobilisation of an estimated 10,000-15,000 child soldiers enrolled in the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) to fight the regime of ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko last year. A UNICEF spokeswoman in Kinshasa told IRIN that many child soldiers did not want to return to their families, preferring to stay together. "The demobilisation of child soldiers is a very delicate issue," she said. In addition, demobilised children were not welcomed by their peers when they returned home. "If proper basic education were provided, the children would be less attracted to the army," the spokeswoman said.
KENYA: Worst food crisis for 15 years
Food analysts have warned that Kenya is facing its worst food crisis in 15 years as months of torrential rain have battered crop production, Reuters reported. USAID's Famine Early Warning System (FEWS) estimated a maize deficit of 634,131 mt for 1997/98. News reports quoted sources at Mombasa port as saying Kenya was importing 25,000 mt of maize from South Africa, due in this week. The World Bank is to send a team to Nairobi later this month to assess the damage caused by torrential rain and flooding. Team members are expected to concentrate on the water situation and damaged road network across the country.
Meanwhile, the Mombasa-Nairobi road was reopened today after a temporary bridge was installed at Thange where a section of the road collapsed over the weekend.
Malaria kills 90
An outbreak of malaria in western Kisii and Nyamira disricts has killed at least 90 people over the past week, the 'Daily Nation' reported today. Medical personnel in the two districts said there was an acute shortage of intravenous drips and drugs. They appealed to NGOs for assistance.
Chaos as parliament reopens
Chaos reigned as the Kenyan parliament convened today, AFP reported. Opposition leader Mwai Kibaki tried to move a motion of adjournment to protest against political/ethnic clashes in Rift Valley province. Other opposition members waved placards calling for an end to the killings which have left at least 90 people dead. Earlier, riot police in central Nairobi put down a demonstration against the Rift Valley clashes.
UGANDA: Aid agencies preparing for possible refugee influx
Aid agencies are preparing a contingency plan for a possible influx of refugees from Rwanda and DRC, WFP said. The plan by UNHCR and WFP, in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Ugandan Red Cross and the Ministry of Local Government, foresees three different scenarios, with an influx of between 30,000-70,000 refugees crossing into Uganda through Kisoro.
Nairobi, 3 February 1998, 14:55 gmt
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Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 17:55:46 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 346 for 3 Feb 98.2.3 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980203175436.16732Bemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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