Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 348 for 5 Feb 98.2.5

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 348 for 5 Feb 98.2.5

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. 348 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 5 February 1998)

BURUNDI: Food prices more than double since imposition of embargo

The latest FAO market price survey indicates that on 30 January the total cost for a weekly food basket of selected items was 11,690 FrBu whereas the price for the same products before the embargo imposed in July 1996 stood at 5,228 FrBu. (The official exchange rate stands at 412 FrBu to the US dollar). FAO reports that, due to the poor harvest, prices have continued to rise during January, a month when prices normally drop. UNICEF currently estimates the total number of daily beneficiaries in feeding centres supported directly and indirectly via WFP at 17,000 per day.

Regional countries are set to meet soon to review the sanctions. Senior diplomatic sources say Rwanda has hinted it may be prepared to reconsider its position and lift sanctions, but was unlikely to push the issue unless there was a softening in Uganda's current pro-sanctions position.

Nutritional situation expected to remain precarious in 1998

UN humanitarian sources report that due to a number of factors, including continued insecurity, particularly in the south and north-western parts of the country - which prevents large parts of the population from having regular and sufficient access to their land - the nutritional condition of many Burundians remains fragile. Heavy rains have destroyed part of the crops of the 1998-A season and total yields are expected to be lower than last year. A FAO/WFP food and crop supply assessment mission arrived in Burundi on 26 January to evaluate the situation more closely. Due to the poor last harvest, national seed stocks are low, a factor which will adversely affect the next agricultural season which normally accounts for nearly 45 percent of annual production. In addition, food prices continue to rise.

NGO forced to halt activities

Humanitarian sources have reported that following the theft of a radio receiver from a a major international NGO vehicle on loan to a local partner, the Ministry of Defence confiscated all 18 radio receivers and 10 hand-held radios owned by the NGO on 22 January and accused the NGO of illegally having lent their radio-equipped vehicle to another organisation. Field activities have since not been possible due to lack of communications equipment required for security reasons.

ACF slowly restart programme

Meanwhile, ACF is slowly restarting its programme at the Maramvya feeding centre. Operations were curtailed when an ACF vehicle went over a mine on the way to the centre on 11 January and the area remained off limits to international staff. ACF reports that they are currently treating 600 severely malnourished patients in the therapeutic feeding unit while the supplementary feeding programme remains on hold.

TANZANIA: Floods cripple Tanzania rail network

Floods blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon have crippled Tanzania's national rail network, causing the worst damage in the railway's history with initial repair costs estimated at US $18 million, Reuters reported from Dar es Salaam yesterday (Wednesday). Movement of coffee, cotton and tobacco to markets was severely hampered and transport of relief food to refugees in western Tanzania had slowed, Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) Managing Director Linford Mboma was quoted as saying. "This is the worst-ever (downpour) to affect the railway line," said Mboma, whose corporation stopped scheduled rail services on 18 December. WFP reports that the first train with 2,000 mt of food was due to leave this week from Dodoma to Kigoma in Tanzania. Repairs to the Dar es Salaam/Dodoma rail line are expected to take more than four months.

Three opposition MPs arrested in Zanzibar

Radio Tanzania, monitored by the BBC, reported on Wednesday that three more opposition MPs had been arrested on Zanzibar. The radio said the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Zanzibar, Pandu Amir Kificho, officially announced that the CUF (Civic United Front) members of parliament had been detained and would be taken to court and charged with "threatening to cause trouble". He said the MPs were Sud Yusuf Mgeni of Kitongoji constituency, Hamad Rashid of Wawi constituency and Hamad Masud of Ole constituency.

RWANDA: WFP reports drop in food deliveries

WFP reported that owing to disruptions in transport routes, less than 3,000 mt of food have arrived in Rwanda since 21 December, and distributions are being limited to priority programmes such as refugee camps and selected nutritional centres. It added that, although various programmes are affected by these measures, the recent January harvest should help offset any serious negative impact on the food situation. During February, WFP expects to deliver only 2,500 to 3,000 mt, down from a monthly average of 7,000 to 8,000 mt.

ANGOLA: Angola seizes Ukrainian plane

Angola has seized a Ukrainian aircraft and its crew, along with two South African passengers, following UN claims that the plane violated an international embargo on UNITA, the Angolan news agency ANGOP reported on Wednesday. The aircraft, an Antonov 26 was on a list drawn up by the UN Observation Mission in Angola (MONUA) of planes which had violated Angolan airspace and the travel embargo imposed by the UN on UNITA last October, ANGOP said. On Monday, Angolan television reported Defence Minister Pedro Sebastiao as saying he wanted to expand military cooperation with Russia. The minister was speaking after a meeting with Vladimir Pakhomov, Russian deputy minister for economic relations. A large percentage of the Angolan armed forces military equipment came from the now-defunct Soviet Union. The television also announced Sweden had donated US $10 million to help resettle displaced people in the country.

KENYA: Health ministry issues malaria alert

The Ministry of Health yesterday issued an alert over an expected increase in malaria cases as a result of the recent heavy rains. Director of Medical Services Dr James Mwanzia said reports from most districts countrywide indicated that there was an increase of malaria cases owing to the sudden arrival of warm temperatures. Meanwhile, the 'Daily Nation' newspaper reported eight more people had died of cholera in Mwea, Kirinyaga district in Central Province, raising the total death to 21 over the last two weeks.

Moi slaps curfew on parts of Rift Valley

President Daniel arap Moi today slapped a curfew on key towns in Kenya's Rift Valley and ordered in security reinforcements after tribal attacks that have killed more than an estimated 100 people. A report by Moi's Presidential Press Service said all businesses in Nakuru district would have to close between nine p.m. and six a.m. and "anyone loitering ... will be arrested". Moi also cautioned that "businessmen of a particular community... who are funding the violent activities will have their business licences reviewed," the report said.

The move by the head of state came as US ambassador Prudence Bushnell warned at a luncheon in Nairobi that the violence, if unchecked, "will destroy this nation," AFP reported. Moi made the curfew order at a meeting with community leaders in Nakuru, the main town in the Rift Valley, the office of president announced in a statement.

UNITED NATIONS: UNICEF wants minimum age for children in armed forces

UNICEF has called for support for efforts to raise the minimum age at which children can be recruited into the armed forces to 18. The issue is being dealt with by a working group in Geneva which is charged with drafting an optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. "The efforts we have deployed so far have been insufficient to spare children from the scourge of war," UNICEF's Deputy Regional Director for Europe, Bilge Ogun, told participants. Ogun called attention to some of the most glaring examples of child soldiers prevailing in the world today, including Sierra Leone, where she said an estimated 4,500 children were forced to fight and commit atrocities. "Can we forget the appalling situation of the abducted children by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda possibly reaching, according to recent calculations, a total number of as many as six to ten thousand?" she asked. Those Ugandan children, she said, were forced to take part in armed attacks, often in their own villages and communities. Boys were reported to have been made to carry arms and equipment during long treks to Sudan, and girls were allegedly sexually abused and taken as wives.

Nairobi, 5 February 1998 14:30 gmt


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Date: Thu, 5 Feb 1998 18:13:16 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 348 for 5 Feb 98.2.5 Message-ID: <>

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

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