IRIN Update 409 for 5 May 1998.5.5

IRIN Update 409 for 5 May 1998.5.5

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. 409 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 5 May 1998)

RWANDA: Lack of will delayed UN intervention in Rwanda - Annan

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday (Monday) blamed the "fundamental failure" to prevent the 1994 genocide on a "lack of political will" and not on a lack of information. The failure was "local, national, international, including member states with capacity, it was the failure of all of us," he told a press conference in Nairobi. Annan was responding to allegations in ^he 'New Yorker' magazine of 3 May that DPKO, which he then headed, essentially dismissed warnings of the impending genocide.

"No one can deny that the world failed the people of Rwanda. But the crucial issue today is not how to apportion blame with the benefit of hindsight. Rather, we should be asking how we can ensure that such a tragedy can never happen again, and how the international community can best assist the people and government of Rwanda in the enormously difficult process of rebuilding a united community and healing the wounds of the past," Annan also said in a statement released in Nairobi during an eight-day visit to Africa.

Dallaire ordered not to intervene - 'New Yorker'

In its latest edition, the magazine said Annan ordered UN peacekeepers not to intervene after receiving a fax from General Romeo Dallaire, dated 11 January 1994. Dallaire, a Canadian, was then Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda. Dallaire passed on a report from a high-level informant in the Rwandan government who was ordered to compile lists of Tutsis in the capital Kigali. The informant, a former member of the security staff of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, said that his personnel "could kill up to a thousand Tutsis" in 20 minutes, the fax said. He offered to assist the UN force in raiding Hutu militia weapons caches, and Dallaire notified the UN headquarters he intended to conduct such a raid in the next 36 hours. DPKO responded that the operation could not be allowed under the mission's mandate, and suggested Dallaire share the information with Habyarimana. Sent under the name of Annan, it was signed by Riza, then Annan's deputy in the peacekeeping office and now his chief-of-staff.

Annan said his predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali pushed member states so hard to give the "UN the capacity, the facility, to do something in Rwanda" but got nowhere. He said he shared Dallaire's view that if one had reinforced the brigade "hundreds of thousands" of lives could have been saved. He requested journalists not to forget the "incredible circumstances" under which Dallaire and the peacekeepers operated. The Secretary-General maintained people focused too much on Dallaire's cable, which has been public knowledge since 1995, and added that if peacekeeping was that simple there would be no problems in Kosovo or eastern DRC.

Annan praises work of Arusha tribunal

Annan today (Tuesday) arrived in Arusha and praised "improvements" in the workings of the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). "I am proud of the improvements you have made in the tribunal's work over the last year," Annan said. On Monday, Annan dismissed suggestions the ICTR could be moved to Nairobi as mere "rumours".

Foreign minister defends French role at genocide probe

AFP reported French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine today defended the role of late president Francois Mitterrand in events before and after the 1994 genocide. Vedrine, who was Mitterrand's chief of staff between 1991-95, was testifying before a parliamentary commission probing French policy in Rwanda. Vedrine, the first acting cabinet minister to be heard by the commission, denied that France for years had backed the Hutu extremists responsible for four months of bloody the 1994 killings. He maintained France throughout the Mitterrand years "did not back Habyarimana but instead relentlessly pressured him to share power" with the Tutsi minority and install truly democratic institutions. AFP reported yesterday that Belgian Senator Alain Destexhe planned to urge the US Congress to follow the example of Belgium and France by launching a probe into Washington's role during the genocide. Destexhe, who is visiting Washington, said in a communique that he would brief members of the US House of Representatives' foreign affairs committee today about the work of the Belgian probe, which he helped spearhead.

BURUNDI: ACF opens a therapeutic feeding centre in Bubanza

The NGO 'Action contre la faim' (ACF) today opened the first therapeutic feeding centre in Bubanza provincial capital. The centre has a capacity for up to 750 people, an ACF representative told IRIN. The opening of the centre comes after a nutritional survey, conducted in February by Children's Aid Direct (CAD), indicated that more than 2,000 children admitted to supplementary feeding programmes in the province were in need of therapeutic feeding. The survey also stressed that malnutrition was the main cause of death, and said that the death rate for children aged 6 to 59 months was 4,34/10,000 per day. CAD says it plans also to open another supplementary feeding centre in Musigati commune, in addition to six existing ones in the province. These provide assistance to 5,700 beneficiaries, a majority of them children.

Meanwhile, OCHA in Burundi reported that the number of people living in camps in Bubanza province had increased recently and reached 159,000 in April. This means about+57 percent of the province's population is now living in camps, humanitarian sources said. Insecurity and fighting in the northern part of the province, near Kibira forest, are believed to be one of the main reasons for the recent influx.

Journalists denounce breaches of press freedom

The Burundian Journalists Association (ABJ) has denounced "flagrant violations of press freedom" and petitioned President Pierre Buyoya to help halt threats to reporters and newspaper seizures, AFP reported today. In a statement issued after Sunday's annual press freedom day, launched by the UN and backed by media associations, the 200-strong ABJ urged "journalists to show solidarity in a tough but responsible struggle to win their rights and freedoms".

UGANDA: Institutions closed to curb cholera spread

The Health Ministry has ordered the closure of a number of institutions in northern Arua district, senior ministry official Sam Okura today told IRIN. He said that the district's cholera task force had closed down "unsanitary institutions like schools and markets." Five people have died and 18 have been taken ill since cholera broke out in the region two weeks ago. The task force has introduced mobile clinics and health education and is helping the inhabitants to put up pit latrines in schools and markets.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: UNICEF to open centre for war-traumatised children

UNICEF said on Friday it had set up a centre in Brazzaville to provide psychotherapy for thousands of war-traumatised children in the Republic of Congo. A similar UNICEF programme in Rwanda is still counselling children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the 1994 genocide and continuing ethnic clashes. Reuters reported spokesman Patrick McCormick saying virtually all 450,000 children under the age of 18 in the capital Brazzaville had been exposed to potentially-traumatising experiences during Congo's four-month civil war last year.

SUDAN: OLS welcomes flight clearance, says resources now main problem

OLS southern sector is confident that with the granting by Khartoum of new clearances on flight capacity and locations, the most acute emergency needs can be met. OLS sources said the main problem now was ensuring the provision of necessary resources. Yesterday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to "governments and populations of the world" to respond urgently to a UN appeal for funds to avert starvation in Sudan. Speaking at a press conference in Nairobi, Annan said the UN had appealed for $109 million for relief efforts in Sudan, but had received pledges for only 20 percent of that amount. "The World Food Programme is appealing to donors for a further $20.12 million in food and cash, which will meet food needs in the next four months," said Annan. He added UNICEF needed an additional $4.5 million "to respond to the non-food needs" in Bahr al-Ghazal alone. "I appeal to donor governments and populations of the world to respond urgently to this crisis," Annan added.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Authorities plan regional conference

DRC authorities are organising a conference for the Great Lakes region in Kinshasa from 12 to 16 May. The heads of state of Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia are invited to the conference which will focus on the search for peace and stability in the region and the launching of a regional development initiative. A ceremony on the 17 May will also celebrate the first year of the arrival in power of the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila. Analysts said some countries and diplomats may boycott the conference for fear it was a way to ensure maximum participation for the first-year anniversary celebrations of the overthrow of late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

ZAMBIA: Government rejects consortium's ZCCM mine bid

The privatisation of Zambia's two biggest copper mines has run into trouble. Reuters reported on Monday that a revised offer from the Kafue consortium - a group of foreign mining companies - was still below the government's expectations. The government valued the consortium's revised offer at US $131 million. It rejected a bid last month by the companies, which it said was worth US $105 million. The sale of Nkana and Nchanga mines is part of the privatisation of the largely state-owned Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). Western donors have been pressing for a speedy sale ahead of next week's Paris Club consultative meeting where they will consider Zambia's request for up to US $165 million in fresh aid. President Frederick Chiluba told Reuters in an interview today: "We are determined to sell the mines, but this must purely be at market value." He said the government was looking at alternative offers.

ZCCM accounts for 95 percent of Zambia's hard currency earnings and is the country's biggest employer. According to Greg Mills, the director of the South African Institute of International Affairs, ZCCM "is the jewel in the government's privatisation crown." He told IRIN today that ZCCM is however "bankrupt" and, given the slump in world copper prices, is being over-valued by the government. He believes that the authorities have "cold feet" over the sale in which they would lose ZCCM's foreign exchange earnings and, in the short term, tax revenues. He however stressed that if the failure to privatise forced mine closures, the impact would be "dramatic for Zambia and potentially for the whole region."

Nairobi 5 May, 1998 15:30 GMT


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Date: Tue, 5 May 1998 19:27:33 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 409 for 5 May 1998.5.5 Message-ID: <>

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

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