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IRIN Update No. 350 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday-Monday 7-9 February 1998)
RWANDA: Six rebels killed in clash with army
Six rebels were killed in clashes with the army just north of Ruhengeri on Friday, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported. Military spokesman Emmanuel Ndahiro said the fighting occurred in Kinigi. Two soldiers were injured. The rebels then withdrew to the Virunga national park, Ndahiro said. The army also launched an operation to flush out rebels hiding in the northwest Gisenyi region along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Officer arrested in connection with Jenda massacre
Meanwhile, a military commander in the Jenda area of Ruhengeri prefecuture has been arrested for failing to prevent a massacre of 35 people by Hutu militiamen last Wednesday. Spokesman Emmanuel Ndahiro, quoted by RNA, said "operational errors" were to blame for the massacre. "The army never intervened to stop the slaughter in which people were killed with traditional weapons," he said. The commander's immediate superiors were also being questioned about the incident. RNA said the victims included 29 ethnic Bagogwe pastoralists and six others considered by the attackers to be government sympathisers.
RPF political bureau dissolved
The Rwandan Patriotic Front has dissolved its political bureau in order to carry out party reforms, think about the direction it is taking and attempt to transcend ethnic divisions, RPF Vice-President Denis Polisi told AFP on Sunday.
Rwanda diplomats angry over Kenyan passport move
Rwandan diplomats have expressed anger over a Kenyan government directive validating passports from the old Habyarimana regime, the 'EastAfrican' weekly reported today (Monday). The Rwandan government outlawed the old brown passports in September 1996, replacing them with blue ones. One diplomat, quoted by the newspaper, said Kenya "has no authority to confer legitimacy on documents disowned by the original issuing authority". The Kenyan circular, issued on 24 December 1997, said "former Rwandese travel documents which have hitherto not been honoured, will continue to be accepted as lawful travel documents for the purposes of entry to Kenya". Principal Immigration Officer in Nairobi Frank Kwinga said there had been a misunderstanding arising from "misinterpretation of the wording", according to the 'EastAfrican'.
BURUNDI: Sanctions Committee proposes secretariat to monitor compliance
The 'EastAfrican' also reported that the Regional Sanctions Coordinating Committee on Burundi (RSCC) had proposed setting up a secretariat to monitor compliance with embargo. Documents made available to the newspaper from an RSCC meeting in Addis Ababa last October proposed a total budget of US $410,780 and a working team of a maximum eight officials. The 'EastAfrican' said the move was seen as a further attempt to tighten sanctions on Burundi. However, it pointed out there were deepening splits within the region about the validity of maintaining sanctions. The latest FAO market price survey indicated that the cost of a weekly food basket has more than doubled since the imposition of the embargo in August 1996.
TANZANIA: Ogata visiting refugee camps
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata arrived in Tanzania on Saturday for a five-day visit which will include tours of refugee camps in the west and northwest of the country. A UNHCR official told IRIN a theme of her 20-day tour is to deal with "widening gaps between state interests and refugee rights". Ogata is due to leave for Burundi on Thursday.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kapalata inmates refused
permission to leave
In a press release on Friday, UNICEF said the military authorities controlling Kapalata camp near Kisangani were refusing to allow some 3,000 children to leave for a pre-arranged site. UNICEF's representative in DRC Ibrahim Jabr said there was no reason to prevent the children from moving to a healthier environment. The authorities in DRC had announced Kapalata would be closed after some 300 inmates died of cholera. According to the authorities, the children are Mai-Mai rebels. UNICEF says the average age is 14, with some children as young as eight.
AZADHO concerned over Walikale fighting
The DRC human rights organisation AZADHO says that since early December, Walikale in North Kivu has been the scene of "bloody operations led by the ADFL (Alliance of Democratic Force for the Liberation of Congo) army" against Mai-Mai rebels. AZADHO expressed concern over the fact "that the government seems determined to go for the military option in its struggle against the Mai-Mai".
UN advance team goes to Mbandaka
A preparatory team of five UN human rights investigators left Kinshasa for the northwestern town of Mbandaka on Friday. UN spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt told a news briefing the team would lead the way for a redeployment of investigators in the next few days.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Survey reveals poor food security situation
The results of a nutrition survey recently conducted in Brazzaville reveal that, although there is currently no serious acute malnutrition problem in the city, the food security status of the general population is poor. The study, undertaken last month by MSF and partly financed by UNICEF, noted there was the potential for a rapid deterioration of nutritional conditions, particularly for children and other vulnerable groups. It surveyed 3,903 people (824 families or households) and measured 503 children under five years of age. The study revealed that 5.6% of the children suffer from acute malnutrition, of which 1.5% are severely malnourished.
SUDAN: Flight ban putting people at risk, UN says
UN spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said a decision by the Sudanese government to suspend aid flights to Bahr el Ghazal was putting the lives of vulnerable people at great risk. Operation Lifeline Sudan was in close contact with the authorities to resolve the issue. He said an estimated 100,000 displaced people were fleeing the conflict which had recently flared up around the southern towns of Wau, Aweil and Gogrial. They were gathering in various areas of Bahr el Ghazal state, weak, hungry and in urgent need of food, medicine and shelter.
Libya to mediate between Sudan and Eritrea
Sudanese President Omar el Bashir announced on Saturday he had ageed to Libyan mediation in his government's dispute with Eritrea, AFP reported. He had just returned from Tripoli, shortly after a visit there by Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki. Eritrea has denied allegations by Sudan that its troops have entered the country and are fighting alongside Sudanese rebels. Meanwhile, the 'Akhbar al-Yawm' daily today said the Sudanese authorities were closing the border with Eritrea to prevent infiltration into Sudan by anti-government forces.
KENYA: Jackson urges Moi to stop Rift Valley violence
US civil rights leader and presidential envoy Jesse Jackson today urged President Daniel arap Moi to end ethnic violence in the Rift Valley. He told a news conference in Nairobi, the president had promised to end the violence, AFP reported. "Fratricide and genocide must give way to reconciliation ... the president, parliament, must use all resources at their disposal to stop it," he was quoted as saying. Political/ethnic attacks have left at least 100 people dead since mid-January.
Over 1 billion shillings needed to rebuild water installations
The water resources ministry has said it needs at least 1.1 billion shillings (US $18 million) for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of water installations destroyed by recent torrential rain. KBC radio quoted Permanent Secretary Erastus Mwongera as saying the worst damage was to water conservation structures such as dams, water intakes and pumping equipment.
Nairobi, 9 February 1998, 14:00 gmt
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Date: Mon, 9 Feb 1998 17:01:38 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 350 for 7-9 Feb 98.2.9 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980209170042.508Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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