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IRIN Update No. 388 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 2 April 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Tension still prevails in South Kivu
Local sources in South Kivu told IRIN today (Thursday) there is still tension between Banyamulenge and non-Banyamulenge soldiers in the area. A group of 27 Banyamulenge soldiers, who deserted in Uvira, have been arrested for allegedly inciting an army mutiny earlier this year and are reportedly being interrogated in Bukavu under severe torture. The sources add that Banyamulenge civilians are suspected of collaborating with their military counterparts and their security is in danger. The Banyamulenge complain that the Kinshasa government has never recognised their efforts in the liberation war against ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko. The security situation in Uvira is also said to be rapidly deteriorating as ex-FAZ soldiers, reintegrated into the Congolese army, are arbitrarily arresting and stealing from people.
Cholera epidemic in South Kivu
Cholera is spreading rapidly throughout South Kivu, humanitarian sources told IRIN today. The disease first broke out in the Bukavu neighbourhood of Kadutu in February and is now spreading into several rural zones of South Kivu and into western Rwanda. It has reportedly reached epidemic proportions in the areas of Katana, Kabare, Nyangezi, Uvira, Lemera and Bukavu. A cholera crisis committee, composed of government and non-government agencies, was formed early last month after the South Kivu governor declared an epidemic in Bukavu. The sources warned that the local healthcare system cannot cope with the rapidly growing caseload and said little concrete action has been taken by the international community. Unless urgent action was taken now, the epidemic would reach disaster proportions.
Meanwhile, local health officials have confirmed a cholera epidemic in North Kivu encouraged by large population displacements. After a mission to the affected locations, 114 cases were reported in Mutwanga 'health zone', including 58 deaths, Agence congolaise de presse reported.
UN investigators still face difficulties
Forensic experts on the UN human rights investigation have left for home and will only return to DRC if the mission is allowed "to work freely", according to team leader Atsu-Kofi Amega. He told Reuters yesterday (Wednesday) that investigators still faced problems in the eastern town of Goma and that an incident over a mass grave in the northwestern town of Mbandaka led the four forensic experts to pull out of the country on Saturday. "Like everywhere else in the country, whether in Kinshasa or Mbandaka, we've been facing problems in Goma. We still face problems. Our people were being shadowed there. We've been negotiating with the provincial governor," Amega said. "The problems have decreased, but they are still there. We want to work unimpeded," he added.
Kinshasa denies problems
A senior DRC ministry official in charge of liaison with the UN team, Emmanuel Kambali, said the investigation was going on unfettered. "I have not heard of problems that the team may have encountered in Goma. We are in contact with our people there. If there was a problem, we would know. What they [the UN] are saying is not true," Kambali told Reuters by telephone. Minister of Planning Etienne Richard Mbaya confirmed on Monday the alleged desecration of a traditional burial site at Wenzi-Secli, close to Mbandaka, by the UN investigators. He accused the team of refusing to travel with their liaison officers or informing the provincial governor as previously agreed, according to Agence congolaise de presse.
RWANDA: Week of mourning for genocide victims
Rwanda yesterday began a week of mourning to commemorate the victims of the 1994 genocide. Flags are flying at half-mast, state radio is broadcasting classical music, songs and features related to the slaughter, Reuters reported. The week of mourning culminates in a ceremony next Tuesday at Bisesero Hills in Rwanda's western Kibuye province. More than 150,000 people were butchered in Kibuye by Hutu militiamen and the presidential guard of the former government. The ex-mayor of Kibuye, Clement Kayishema, is facing trial along with 22 others for genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha.
Interahamwe kill 29 in two attacks this week
Three-years after the genocide, the bloodshed continues. Hutu rebels killed nine people in Nyabikenke in Rwanda's central Gitarama province on Monday night, according to the Rwanda News Agency. The attackers "clearly singled out their victims, because there were no wounded," the agency reported today. On Sunday, Hutu rebels killed 20 people and wounded 42 in an attack on a displaced persons camp in northern Ruhengeri. The attackers looted property and seized cattle. The militiamen also stormed the local prison and released 29 inmates, news agencies reported. The displaced camp of Kinigi, 15 km north of Ruhengeri town, held some 3,000 people, most of them Hutu. One of the survivors said the camp had already been attacked on two other occasions before Sunday's massacre.
KENYA: Over 700 Rwandan refugees arrive
The Jesuit Refugee Service reports that since January, its Nairobi office has received over 700 newly-arrived Rwandan refugees. Many of them are widows aged between 19-25, each with three or four children. Following the closure of their camps in Tanzania and DRC they had spent three to four months living in the forests.
Cattle raiding impoverishing local communities
The acquisition of automatic weapons has turned traditional cattle rustling in northern Kenya into murderous raids in which whole villages are wiped out, according to Oxfam's programme officer for pastoralist communities in Kenya. Peter Kisopia told IRIN today that local communities regard access to modern weapons as their security insurance. It is however the proliferation of guns - readily available in an unstable region - that deepens the security threat.
Rustling is endemic in the arid triangle of land wedged between Uganda, Kenya and Sudan, deepening poverty in an already under-developed region. The threat of raids from across the Ugandan and Sudanese borders by armed Karamajong and Toposa warriors respectively has depopulated the border regions. "It's contributed to environmental damage as people concentrate into central places, hence contributing to economic hardship," Kisopia said. The resulting enmity encouraged by the indiscriminate violence has also halted traditional cross-border trading, and keeps tensions simmering.
There is an important local dimension to the instability, Kisopia added. The Pokot are locked in a bitter feud between their neighbours the Turkana, Samburu and Marakwet "which can erupt at anytime." Cattle represent food security and wealth in traditional terms. But a new element to the conflict is the commercialisation of rustling. Raids are now being encouraged by cattle traders linked to the Nairobi market, according to Kisopia.
SUDAN: Khartoum lifts Bahr al-Ghazal relief flight suspension
Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) today welcomed a decision by the Sudanese government to allow relief flights to resume into all areas of Bahr al-Ghazal province where 350,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Relief flights are to commence today to deliver food, medicine and other supplies to people threatened by the combined effects of drought and insecurity, an OLS statement said. This new clearance allows OLS agencies to fly to more than 50 locations in Bahr al- Ghazal this month, and to 180 countrywide. All but five requested locations were approved - the highest number of approved locations since June 1997. Khartoum suspended all flights into Bahr al- Ghazal on 4 February following fighting around the town of Wau.
According to OLS, the lifting of the flight suspension comes at a critical moment for people in the region. WFP has only been able to cover 19 percent of people's food requirements from February to mid-March. Food aid deliveries are particularly essential over the next four weeks when people are cultivating their land in preparation for the next harvest. Urgent supplies of seed and tools are needed within the next three weeks in order to cultivate before the rains arrive. If the next harvest is missed, people will be reliant on relief food for survival until August 1999.
ANGOLA: UNITA delegation arrives in Luanda to reopen party offices
A senior UNITA delegation arrived in Luanda on Wednesday night to reopen the party's offices in one of the few remaining steps to the completion of the Angolan peace process. The delegation, headed by UNITA vice-president Antonio Dembo, arrived in the capital a few hours before the expiry of the 1 April deadline, news agencies reported. UNITA however failed to close down its radio VORGAN station and turn over to the central government about 100 localities it still controls by yesterday as agreed.
BURUNDI: Agencies visit recently displaced people in Bujumbura Rural
A joint UN-NGO mission visited Rushubi and Cirisha sites in Isale commune, Bujumbura Rural, last week after the displacement of some 15,000 people from Kibuye zone. It was decided that WFP would provide a provisional seven-day ration. OCHA-Burundi said at this point it was not feasible to distribute more food due to the fluidity of the situation and given that the displacements were very recent.
Overcrowding in prisons
The UN Centre for Human Rights said that in February a total of 9,700 people were being held in 11 jails across the country, meant to hold a total of 3,650 prisoners, OCHA-Burundi reported. The worst overcrowding was in Gitega and Ngozi - each with a capacity for 400 prisoners - where 1,638 and 2,346 inmates respectively were being held.
Nairobi, 2 April 1998, 14:30 GMT
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Date: Thu, 2 Apr 1998 17:52:57 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 388 for 2 Apr 98.4.2 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980402174939.30631Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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