IRIN Update 410 for 6 May 98.5.6

IRIN Update 410 for 6 May 98.5.6

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. 410 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 6 May 1998)

RWANDA: Former government official arrested on genocide charges

The Rwandan authorities have arrested a former government official in connection with the 1994 genocide. Rwandan radio said it took over two years of investigations before Antoine Bizimana, a former "directeur de cabinet" in the prime minister's office, could be arrested. He was arrested in his home commune of Mbazi, Butare prefecture, following "irrefutable proof" of his involvement in the genocide. Butare prosecutor Martin Ngoga said Bizimana's trial could begin in less than two weeks. Meanwhile defence witnesses at a mass genocide trial in Byumba failed to appear in court yesterday (Tuesday), some out of fear of reprisals, others because their summons were prevented from reaching them, AFP reported. On trial are 51 defendants accused of various acts of genocide.

Civil servants get pay rise

In line with plans to reform the civil service, the Rwandan authorities have announced a 25 percent pay hike for public employees, the Rwanda News Agency reported on Saturday. The increase, along with other incentives, was announced by Vice-President Paul Kagame during Labour Day celebrations on Friday. Trade union representative Francois Murangira had expressed concern over insufficient wages and the current restructuring which had led to 1,800 workers being laid off. The trade unions have accused the government of "lacking transparence" in the process which RNA said was one of the benchmarks of the three-year Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) signed recently with the IMF and World Bank.

Torrential rains lead to road closures

Heavy rains and flooding have led the closure of parts of two major trunk roads, WFP said in its latest weekly report. Mud slides have blocked the road between Butare in Cyangugu, while a section of the road connecting Kigali to Gisenyi has been washed away, leading to the diversion of traffic. WFP also reported that the number of people being assisted at the nutritional centre in Nyamabuye, Gitarama prefecture, had increased sharply from 100 in December to 1,137 in April. Recent fighting has led to internal displacements within the prefecture.

Refugee population stands at over 34,000

In its report, WFP said the refugee population in Rwanda currently stands at 34,710. Of these 31,771 Congolese are accommodated in camps at Byumba and Kibuye and 2,939 Burundians stay at three camps in Cyangugu, Butare and Gikongoro. The Congolese caseload continues to rise, while Burundian refugees are slowly returning home in small numbers. Burundian refugees are also repatriating voluntarily from camps in Kibondo, Tanzania, WFP said.

BURUNDI: Government denies high death tolls in camps

The Burundi government has strongly denied media reports alleging high death tolls in some displaced people's camps. In an interview with the Rwanda News Agency, Communications Minister Pierre Claver Ndayicariye described the reports as "absolutely unfounded and ill-intentioned". "These false reports emanate from people who are jealous of the achievments of our government," he said. He added that the figure of some 500,000 IDPs was "highly exaggerated", saying many people had been resettled.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Cote d'Ivoire to expel former Mobutu officials

The Cote d'Ivoire authorities have asked four senior officials of the former regime of Mobutu Sese Seko to leave the country as soon as possible, AFP reported. It named the four as General Zimbi of the Special Division, General Kpara Baramoto of the Civil Guard, former defence minister Admiral Mavua and Colonel Mokombo also of the Civil Guard. They have reportedly been held at Abidjan airport since Sunday. The four were previously in South Africa after fleeing the former Zaire, and Ivorian officials have said they will be returned to Johannesbug if they do not find a country willing to take them by this Friday.

SUDAN: USAID to send food aid

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is to provide 6,500 mt of food aid, valued at US $9.2 million, to help avert food shortages in south Sudan. USAID administrator Brian Atwood told a conference in Washington recently the aid would be used to meet the most urgent needs of over one million people. USAID will also provide over US $3 million in additional disaster assistance grants to UNICEF to support the OLS programme.

Meanwhile, a consultant on food security to USAID, told AFP yesterday aid agencies were still not authorised to gain access to 400,000 people in the Nuba mountains of south Sudan. Kevin Ashley said 20,000 people were facing food shortages after being forced out of their villages in recent attacks by government troops. Another 300,000 villagers had moved from rebel SPLA territory to "peace camps" in government-held territory where the UN and other agencies were providing assistance. "There would be nothing wrong with that if they had access to the people in SPLA territory as well," he said.

Bashir offers amnesty to rebels

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has reiterated he is prepared to grant an amnesty to "all those who previously carried arms," Sudanese television reported on Monday. It said he specifically referred to those living in Bahr al-Ghazal state "who were suffering food shortages and had suffered at the hands of the rebels and the continuation of war".

Islamic militia take over 1,000 child slaves - Vatican

More than 1,000 Sudanese children have been taken as slaves by Islamic mujahidin militia, the Vatican news agency Fides reported, according to AFP. "The fate of these children, almost all of whom are aged less than 12, is to be sold in Arab markets and the Middle East, to work as guards or to be sexually exploited," the agency said. It added that representatives of the Catholic church had managed to buy 37 children and set them free.

TANZANIA: Seven killed by floods

Seven people drowned and 1,000 were left homeless when floods swept through Dar es Salaam after two days of torrential rains on Sunday and Monday, the regional police commander Alfred Gewe told IRIN today (Wednesday). Meanwhile 70 people died on Sunday after a bus plunged into a flooded river in the Tanga region, according to the 'Daily Nation' on Monday. The driver missed a bridge "submerged by flood waters" due to the ongoing long rains.

UGANDA-KENYA: Regional media institute moved to Kampala

The East African Media Institute on Monday moved its Secretariat from Nairobi to Kampala citing the Kenyan government's refusal to register the organisation. The current president, Wafula Oguttu, told IRIN today that the annual general meeting made the decision because the organisation has "awaited registration for over one and a half years." He also cited the "lack of commitment" from Kenyan journalists to establish the Kenyan chapter. EAMI consists of 15 countries from the region. Meanwhile the Kenya Television Network (KTN) has been placed under receivership "because the company is insolvent," according to the 'Daily Nation' today. KTN, the only private TV station in Kenya that carries local news, has been dogged by ownership controversies since its inception in 1989.

UGANDA: Former parks employee in court on treason charges

A former Uganda National Parks employee has appeared in the Kampala high court on treason charges for coordinating rebel activities, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported yesterday. Francis Kilama, a former park radio operator, is alleged to have coordinated the activities of the Lord's Resistance Army from Kampala. The prosecution told the court the authorities had recovered documents with radio frequencies and what appeared to be descriptions of military hardware. 'New Vision' said Kilama was arrested in May 1995 after security operatives tapped his calls for a year, during which they allegedly overheard him tell LRA rebels to attack tourists and stage raids in northern Uganda.

In its latest report, WFP pointed out the security situation in the northern Gulu and Kitgum districts had deteriorated over the past week. It cited local press reports as saying a protected village in Gulu was attacked resulting in the torching of 35 homes, the abduction of villagers and looting of goods. Clashes between rebel groups and the army have been reported in Kitgum.

Cholera outbreak escalates in Bundibugyo

A cholera epidemic in western Bundibugyo area has escalated with 16 deaths reported in the Itojo and Karugutu camps for displaced people, WFP said. Relief agencies are trying to contain the outbreak.

Nairobi, 6 May 1998, 14:15 gmt


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Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 17:10:24 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 410 for 6 May 98.5.6 Message-ID: <>

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

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