IRIN Update 362 for 25 Feb 98.2.25

IRIN Update 362 for 25 Feb 98.2.25

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. 362 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 25 February 1998)

SUDAN: Relief flights resume to four sites in Bahr el Ghazal

Relief flights to supply 60,000 people with urgently needed assistance in four locations in southern Sudan's troubled Bahr el Ghazal state will resume on Thursday, a spokeswoman for Operation Lifeline Sudan told IRIN today (Wednesday). However, a further 40,000 vulnerable people in 40 locations in the region are still affected by a government flight ban imposed on 4 February. The displaced in the four sites of Akuem, Ajiep, Adet and Pakor that will be reached by the two food flights planned for tomorrow, have not received any assistance since they fled fighting between government soldiers and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) earlier this month.

WFP delivers food by road

WFP announced today that it has succeeded in delivering food by road to northern Bahr El Ghazal, marking the first time that the UN has managed to send food so far north by road from Uganda. The first 120 MT of sorghum from a WFP convoy of 400 MT arrived in Mapel area on Sunday, enduring 900 kilometres of extremely rough and broken roads during a three-week journey.
This 120 MT of food will sustain 51,000 people for six days. "Unfortunately the situation is still serious because only one-quarter of the population in northern Bahr El Ghazal can be reached by road," said David Fletcher, Head of WFP's Southern Sudan operation and Deputy Coordinator for OLS. He added that air operations will still be necessary to deliver food to many inaccessible areas, especially during the rainy season.

UN Secretary-General sends message to Beshir

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's envoy for humanitarian affairs in Sudan met Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir yesterday (Tuesday) and delivered a message from Annan, the official news agency SUNA reported. The news agency did not divulge the contents of the message. According to SUNA, Beshir said Sudan will continue to cooperate with UN-sponsored relief efforts.


Humanitarian sources speak of rising tension in Uvira with reports of Banyamulenge soldiers deserting the DRC army and fleeing into Rwanda. The escarpment road between Uvira and Bukavu is closed and groups of soldiers are said to be in Kamanyola along the road, on the border with Rwanda and Burundi. Meanwhile at Bukavu airport, two people were killed in a skirmish between rival soldiers although the situation in the town is calm.

Malaria epidemic feared in Kinshasa

A Congolese TV report warned on Sunday that Kinshasa was facing a potential malaria epidemic. According to the broadcast, nearly half of all hospital beds in the city are filled by malaria patients. Six to eight percent of the mortality rate is attributed to the disease, with the figure hitting 30 percent in some areas. The problem has been compounded by poor sanitary conditions and increasing resistance to anti-malaria drugs.

BURUNDI: Military court frees Bagaza

A Burundian military court today announced the release of former president Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, saying it did not have the authority to judge him and others accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Pierre Buyoya, AFP reported. The war council, a military court established by Buyoya, opened the so-called "Bagaza file" last Friday, but the council's competence was immediately challenged by the defence. Bagaza refused to appear at the initial hearing because, according to an AFP source close to him, "as a former head of state, it is his right to be tried only by the supreme court." Eight other people, including soldiers and a senior magistrate, were accused of plotting with Bagaza to overthrow Buyoya.

UNDP boss calls for increased aid

UNDP Administrator James Gustave Speth ended a two-day tour of Burundi today urging the international community to step up aid to the country, Reuters reported. "We will do everything that we can do in the United Nations... But in the end, it will take a larger international community - beyond the UN itself - if we are going to be able to find the resources that Burundi needs," he said. Speth noted the humanitarian situation in Burundi was already severe but had been compounded by poverty, civil war, bad weather and regional economic sanctions. "This is a cumulative consequence of great severity for Burundi and one of the messages that I want to give the international community is that it's time to be helpful to people in crisis," he added.

Buyoya rejects self-defence militias

Meanwhile, Buyoya has rejected civilian self-defence militias as an answer to Burundi's security problems. In a speech on Monday broadcast by state radio, he said "we do not intend to form militias. On the contrary it's what we want to avoid, and all precautions have been taken." According to an AFP despatch, villagers are instead to be taught surveillance techniques, establishing three layers of defence: the security efforts of citizens, security forces and the administration. "We have no intention to distribute arms to the people," Buyoya said.

ANGOLA: Government says country risks war

The Angolan government warned yesterday the country risked sliding back into civil war following an escalation of armed incidents in recent weeks. In a statement to the press, General Higino Carneiro, the deputy minister in charge of implementing the 1994 peace accords, challenged UNITA to make a "declaration of total demilitarization" before 28 February, the date previously agreed by both sides. Carneiro said UNITA still has a significant number of soldiers - at least 5,000 - who are prepared to resume hostilities. "If the situation continues, the government will take reprisals, if necessary," he warned.

Defence minister accuses UNITA of retraining

Angolan Defence Minister General Pedro Sebastiao has accused UNITA of reorganising its forces with an "important" contingent undergoing training in DRC. Speaking in Maputo yesterday while on an official visit, Sebastiao told Mozambican state radio that UNITA's demoblisation deadline "will be just another date of no consequence." Sebatiao was in Maputo to discuss national security issues with his Mozambican counterpart the broadcast, monitored by the BBC, said.

UGANDA: LRA attacks Kitgum

Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels attacked the northern town of Kitgum earlier today, humanitarian sources told IRIN. Shops were looted and people abducted in the five-hour raid by some 150 rebels which began at around 1:00 am. According to initial reports, there were no deaths. Humanitarian sources suggested the attack was a diversion to draw government forces into town while the main group of rebels crossed back to Sudan with many abductees.

Rebels behead 11 people

Ugandan rebels beheaded five people after ambushing them in the western district of Bundibugyo, bringing the number of victims of such attacks in the area this week to 11. AFP reported the state-owned 'New Vision' newspaper as saying today that Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) insurgents beheaded three brothers and a married couple after forcing their car to stop along the Fort Portal-Bundibugyo road on Tuesday. The same group killed six people when they raided a village in the district on Sunday. The rebels have stepped up their attacks in Bundibugyo since the Ugandan army and DRC troops in an operation against them.

Malaria drugs in short supply

Stocks of anti-malaria drugs are in short supply in parts of Uganda, the 'New Vision' reported yesterday. The worst hit regions are the east and west of the country, Communicable Disease Control Commissioner, Dr Sam Okware, said. Teams carrying supplies from Kampala have been sent to the affected districts, he added. Meanwhile, the director of Uganda's blood transfusion services said El-Nino induced epidemics had trebled the demand for blood.

RWANDA: Dallaire begins testimony in Arusha

The former head of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda, the Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, began his testimony before the UN war crimes tribunal for Rwanda today. He was called by the defence to give evidence in the case against a former mayor, Jean-Paul Akayesu. Akayesu is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity.

Court upholds death verdict

A Rwandan appeals court on Monday upheld the death penalty against former Kigali prosecutor, Silas Munyagishari, convicted of genocide and other crimes against humanity, the Rwanda News Agency reported.

Nairobi, 25 February 1998, 14:15 GMT


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Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998 17:37:49 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 362 for 25 Feb 98.2.25 Message-ID: <>

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

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