Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 356 for 17 Feb 98.2.17

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 356 for 17 Feb 98.2.17

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. 356 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 17 February 1998)

BURUNDI-TANZANIA: Ogata says "tripartite mechanism" to meet mid-March

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Sadako Ogata said today (Tuesday) she expected the first "technical level" meeting between representatives of Burundi, Tanzania, and UNHCR would take place by mid-March. The two countries agreed at the weekend to create a "tripartite mechanism" designed to facilitate the voluntary return of thousands of Burundian refugees from camps in Tanzania. There are an estimated 260,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania. Ogata, who is on the last section of a three-week African tour, told a Nairobi press conference the mechanism would allow for the development of a technical plan of action for voluntary repatriation. She said that though there was still some insecurity in parts of Burundi, many people still wished to go back home.

UNHCR to train Tanzanian police to patrol refugee camps

Ogata also insisted on the importance of maintaining the civilian character of the camps. With UNHCR support, she said Tanzanian police would continue to provide a 24-hour security and surveillance service for the camps and said UNHCR would train and equip a 500-strong contingent of Tanzanian police to patrol the camps. "There were a lot of allegations (and) criticism from the Burundi side that the camps in Tanzania were being used for military activities (and) political activities and we have been criticised for letting that happen," Ogata told the news conference. "We will be strengthening the Tanzanian police capacity in the camps, giving them training, bringing in some international trainers, giving them some equipment," she said, adding that the UNHCR would have international liaison officers with the police. Police have recently removed over 40 combatants from one civilian camp population.

KENYA: WFP warns food rations could be cut in half

WFP warned today that food rations for 125,000 refugees in northeastern Kenya's Dadaab camps could be cut by half in two weeks' time if urgent funding for the Dadaab air bridge is not received immediately. WFP says the reduction comes at a time when many of the refugees are particularly weak and already suffering from a rise in malaria as a result of the constant rains and flood conditions in the camps. Currently, WFP provides monthly nearly 1,800 mt of food to the 125,000 Somali and Sudanese refugees in the three Dadaab camps - Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley. Refugees receive almost 1,900 calories in their daily 510 gram ration made up of maize, wheat flour, beans, lentils, oil and salt. WFP has been urging donors to give US $2.2 million to continue the air bridge until March. To date, only US $705,000 has been received, from the US and the Netherlands, but these funds have now been exhausted.

Kenya and London Club agree to reschedule debt

Kenya and the London Club of creditor private banks have reached an accord on rescheduling Kenya's debt arrears which amount to US $70 million dollars, the banks said on Monday. "The principles of an agreement have been reached for restructuring the arrears owed to the banks by Kenya," a communique from BNP, the French bank that chairs the London Club, said. The agreement which is due to come into effect at the end of March reschedules the principal debt over 10 years but includes a deferment for three years.

BURUNDI: Buyoya details his government's priorities

Burundi's military leader Pierre Buyoya has said the four priorities of his regime were boosting security, ending a war with Hutu rebels, raising economic production and fighting corruption, AFP reported. Buyoya told a news conference that overall, the security situation in the country was under control, although it was "disturbed" in some areas around the capital and in the provinces.

CORRECTION: A summit of regional heads of state will take place in the Ugandan capital Kampala on 21 February to review the crisis in Burundi and sanctions imposed on that country by its neighbours. IRIN Update 355 yesterday incorrectly reported the summit would take place on 21 January.

RWANDA: Former mayor of Bicumbi pleads not guilty at Arusha

Laurent Semanza, former mayor of the central Rwandan city of Bicumbi, has pleaded not guilty before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha to charges of genocide, the court said in a statement. Semanza faces seven charges including genocide, complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. During the 1994 genocide, Semanza was on the central committee of the presidential party, the Mouvement republicain national pour la democratie et le developpement (MRND), and was an MP in the transitional national assembly. Meanwhile, AFP reported that the defense lawyer for Rwandan genocide suspect Jean-Paul Akayesu last Friday had asked the UN tribunal to summon former prime minister Jean Kambanda. The lawyer said Kambanda's testimony would clarify what transpired at a meeting on 18 April 1994, in the central Rwandan city of Gitarama, after which Akayesu, then mayor of nearby Taba, allegedly incited the slaughter of Tutsis in his locality.

In another trial, a former general who commanded elite Hutu units during the 1994 Rwandan civil war, Gratien Kabiligi, today pleaded not guilty to charges of committing and encouraging the genocide of Tutsis. "Mr. Chairman, there was no genocide. There was war. I plead not guilty," Kabiligi said at his first appearance before the tribunal. Kabiligi, now 46, was in charge of military operations for the chief of staff of the then Hutu-dominated Rwandan army.

Belgium's justice minister to visit court

Belgium Justice Minister Stefan de Clerck will visit the ICTR on 23 February, the court announced in a press release. During the visit, de Clerck will meet with the Tribunal President Judge Laity Kama and Registrar Agwu Ukiwe Okali. The minister will also observe the testimony of Canadian General Romeo Dallaire in the trial of Jean-Paul Akayesu. Dallaire begins his testimony as a witness for the defence on 23 February.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Belgian businessman released

Belgian businessman Patrick Claes, detained since August in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been freed, a Belgian minister said in Kinshasa yesterday (Monday). DRC radio, monitored by the BBC, said Claes, who was manager of Sizarail, the national railways in former Zaire, would leave the DRC capital later in the day accompanied by Minister of Zoning for the Brussels region Herve Hasquin. Claes was among some 30 members of the ousted regime of late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko to have been tried in Kinshasa for misappropriating public funds, but no trial date was ever set. Hasquin said Belgium paid no money to obtain the release of Claes.

Fighting reported in Bukavu

Heavy fighting erupted in Bukavu early today, but other details were not available. Humanitarian sources told IRIN the town was calm again after heavy exchanges of gunfire between midnight and five a.m., but said it was not clear who was responsible. Eastern DRC has recently witnessed several flare-ups between rival units of the army and attacks on government forces by Mai-Mai rebels.

AFRICA: FAO calls for better agricultural practices

Sub-Saharan Africa risks being marginalised from the mainstream world economy unless it improves agricultural practices, according to FAO. In a paper prepared for a regional conference in Addis Ababa next week, the UN's food agency said many countries in the region had failed to adopt environmentally-sustainable agricultural practices to improve productivity. FAO called for urgent action to transform agriculture and rationalise the exploitation of forests and other natural resources to halt the process of degradation which has characterised the last three decades. While acknowledging that population growth has contributed to the degradation of natural resources in the region, the paper stressed that the main factor was a policy failure to address this problem, to transform agriculture and make it sustainable and to rationalize the exploitation of forests and other natural resources. The FAO paper also stressed a fundamental requirement for sustainable development is political and social stability.

Nairobi 17 February 1998 14:30 GMT


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-- Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 17:24:12 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 356 for 17 Feb 98.2.17 Message-ID: <>

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

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