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U N I T E D N A T I O N S Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa
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IRIN Update No. 347 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 4 February 1998)
BURUNDI: Rwanda considering lifting embargo
Rwanda said yesterday (Tuesday) it was considering lifting regional trade sanctions on Burundi. In an interview with AFP, Emmanuel Gasana, an adviser to Vice-President Paul Kagame, said the conflict in Burundi "is a power struggle of a few individuals who unfortunately do not think about the future". He said regional countries, who are planning to meet in Kampala on 12-13 February to review the sanctions, should begin a process "where rationality prevails". A final decision should be taken in Kampala, Gasana added. He said Burundi had largely satisfied international demands for negotiations with Hutu rebels and admitted the sanctions had failed because of loopholes used by neighbouring countries. He denied Rwanda was involved in illegal merchandising. "The accusations have concerned more Tanzania," he said, according to AFP.
Kenya Airways is to begin twice-weekly humanitarian flights to Bujumbura from 6 February, according to an announcement by the Kenyan foreign ministry. These are expected to replace flights managed by WFP which were suspended last July.
RWANDA: Two arrested in connection with priest's murder
Two people have been arrested in connection with the killing of a Croatian priest in Kigali on Saturday, according to the BBC's Kinyarwanda service. It said three people travelling with the priest, Father Vjeko Curic, were responsible for gunning him down as they drove up to Kigali from Kivumu in Gitarama prefecture. Large crowds turned out for his funeral in Kivumu yesterday.
Dallaire to testify before ICTR this month
General Romeo Dallaire, the former force commander of the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR), will appear as a witness in the trial of genocide suspect Jean-Paul Akayesu on Monday 23 February. According to a press release from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Dallaire's testimony is of particular importance. Three defence witnesses have already testified in the case of Akayesu, a former mayor of Taba in Gitarama prefecture. Dallaire's immunity was partially waived by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last month.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: 3,000 detainees transferred from Kapalata
Humanitarian workers said the Kapalata military camp in Kisangani was finally closed yesterday, and some 3,000 detainees were transferred to a large, unfinished hospital in the town. DRC television confirmed that 3,000 "former Mai-Mai elements" were undergoing medical checks and treatment. It said the IFRC had distributed beds and bedclothes. The French and DRC governments were providing food. France chartered a cargo plane to Kisangani this week with 35 mt of relief goods on board. Kapalata was closed after reports of inhumane and insanitary conditions which led to a cholera outbreak causing 290 deaths. A further 22 people died of dysentery and UNICEF reported another 35 deaths from other causes.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: 83 die from cholera in Pointe-Noire
An outbreak of cholera in the southern city of Pointe-Noire has claimed 83 lives out of a reported 445 cases. UNICEF said there were about 10 new cases every day since the disease broke out last November. Following an assessment mission by the health ministry and WHO last month, two hospitals were designated as cholera centres for the isloation and treatment of patients. UNICEF's representative in the country, Eric Laroche, said it was "dangerously inaccurate" to believe scarred buildings in Brazzaville were the only remnants of the civil war. "The conflict has virtually incapacitated the entire country's primary healthcare system," he said. He appealed for further aid to the country, saying lack of response to the UN's flash appeal "is an indication of scarce donor interest in the plight of the country and its people".
KENYA: Richardson calls for solution to Rift Valley violence
US Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson has expressed Washington's concern over escalating violence in the Rift Valley area during a meeting with President Daniel arap Moi. Richardson told reporters after the meeting yesterday he had urged all Kenyan leaders to "stop pointing the blame at each other and try to resolve this very serious issue". Unofficial sources say as many as 100 people could have been killed since the violence erupted last week. Opposition and government leaders have blamed each other for stoking the violence which has been ethnically-based but with strong political overtones. "I raised the issue of violence in the Rift Valley and the concern that we have for that violence to stop," Richardson said. Senior diplomatic sources meanwhile told IRIN today Jesse Jackson, US special envoy for democracy in Africa, is due to arrive in Kenya this weekend and will visit the area to witness at first hand the consequences of the unrest.
Opposition strike call goes unheeded
International news organisations reported a call by the Kenyan opposition for a general strike today (Wednesday) to protest the government's failure to end the Rift Valley killings appeared to go unheeded in Nairobi. Office workers in central Nairobi reported for duty and shops opened as normal. Members of parliament of the opposition Democratic Party and the Social Democratic Party had urged Nairobi residents to stay at home in memory of those killed by armed raiders. Attackers have targeted mainly members of the Kikuyu ethnic group, who voted overwhelmingly for the opposition in general elections last December.
Cholera outbreak in Central province
An outbreak of cholera in Mwea, Kirinyaga district in Central province, over the past two weeks has killed at least 13 people and affected 92 others. Local MP, Alfred Nderitu, quoted in the 'Daily Nation' today, blamed the outbreak on contaminated drinking water and unhygienic conditions in some villages. He urged the international community to intervene, adding that the most-affected people were rice farmers who drank water directly from irrigation channels.
UGANDA: Army veterans demonstrate for severance pay
Fourteen army veterans were arrested yesterday after riot police broke up a demonstration by some 100 veterans demanding their severance pay. According to Ugandan radio, the demonstration was unlawful. The government issued a statement clarifying its position on demobilisation in which it told veterans the door was open to them and they should take advantage of the government's goodwill to resolve their grievances. They should "refrain from acts of indiscipline and violence," the statement said. It added that a total of 36,358 soldiers had been demobilised and resettled in their home areas.
SUDAN: Kerubino supporters reportedly rounded up in Khartoum
Militiamen backing Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, who is thought to have rejoined southern rebels after defecting to the government, have been rounded up in Khartoum. Press reports, cited by AFP, said they were being held in an unidentified location. The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has said Kerubino led last week's rebel assault on the town of Wau in southern Bahr el Ghazal state.
OLS, WFP refused permission to drop food
The Sudanese government refused permission for Operation Lifeline Sudan and WFP to drop food to some 150,000 people displaced by fighting in Bahr el Ghazal. "WFP and Operation Lifeline Sudan have been denied flight access by the government of Sudan on security grounds," said WFP spokeswoman Brenda Barton. This would be reviewed once the security situation changed, she added. However specific requests to meet acute humanitarian needs would be considered on a case-by-case basis. WFP yesterday announced the start of a daily operation to drop food to two locations in the state.
Eritrean president visits Sudan's neighbours
Meanwhile, as Sudanese government troops claimed to have fought off an Eritrean offensive in the Geredah border area earlier this week, Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki paid visits to Sudan's northern neighbours, Libya and Egypt. Libyan radio said Isayas described his visit to Tripoli as a success and an opportunity to strengthen cooperation between the two countries. In Cairo last night, the Eritrean president met his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak for talks on issues of mutual concern, MENA news agency said.
AFRICA: Ogata begins visit tomorrow
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata arrives in Harare, Zimbabwe, on a 20-day visit to Africa tomorrow. The trip will include Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC.
UN top officials discuss Great Lakes region
A three-day series of meetings on the Great Lakes region starts at UN headquarters in New York today. The Secretary-General's top representatives from Rwanda, Burundi and DRC are expected to meet him on Friday.
Nairobi, 4 February 1998, 15:10 gmt
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Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 18:11:31 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 347 for 4 Feb 98.2.4 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980204181013.27225Aemail@example.com
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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