IRIN Update 421 for 21 May 98.5.21

IRIN Update 421 for 21 May 98.5.21

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. 421 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 21 May 1998)

BURUNDI: All sides agree to Arusha talks, Nyerere says

Burundi peace mediator, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, yesterday (Wednesday) announced that all sides in the conflict had agreed to meet in Arusha on 15 June. His announcement followed talks in Dar es Salaam with Burundian President Pierre Buyoya, coming in the wake of a series of meetings with various Burundi political leaders. He told a news conference there should be a cessation of hostilities in Burundi before the start of the talks, AFP reported. On his arrival back in Bujumbura, Buyoya said he had insisted that the Arusha meeting re-examine the issue of regional economic sanctions and relations between Burundi and Tanzania, according to AFP. Earlier, Buyoya sought to reassure Burundians that his meeting in Dar es Salaam was part of the ongoing peace process. An internal peace dialogue is running parallel to the regional initiative.

Human rights group concerned over prison conditions

The Burundi human rights organisation Iteka has expressed concern over conditions in Burundi's prisons. In a statement, it said the death toll in the jails had reached alarming proportions. The situation was aggravated by shortages of food and medicine, due partly to the embargo on the country. Iteka, whose representatives frequently visit prisons and detention centres in Burundi, said 10 percent of the population in Muyinga prison had died between 1 January and 22 April 1998. Over the same period, in Ngozi prison, 229 out of 2,400 prisoners had died. If the trend continued, 30 percent of inmates in this prison would have died by the end of the year, Iteka warned. It urged the authorities to exercise more control over those responsible for detentions and called on national and international institutions to help improve prison conditions and the judicial system.

WFP resumes food airlifts

WFP yesterday began airlifting 3,000 mt of food commodities to maintain its food security programmes in Burundi. OCHA-Burundi notes the airlift follows a first such endeavour undertaken in March when nearly 700 mt of urgently needed feeding materials were flown to Burundi. The airlifts became necessary when normal rail and road transport routes were damaged as a result of heavy rains in Tanzania.

KENYA: Three arrested in connection with Sendashonga murder

Three people have been arrested in connection with the murder of Rwandan opposition politician and former interior minister Seth Sedashonga in Nairobi on Saturday. Kenyan police told a news conference yesterday they included two Rwandans and a Ugandan. The murder was reportedly a revenge killing for an alleged financial swindle, but Sendashonga's family still maintain the Rwandan authorities are behind his death.

RWANDA: More prisoners admit genocide

Over 200 more Rwandan prisoners confessed to genocide crimes yesterday in the hope of having their sentences reduced, Radio Rwanda reported. Their confessions follow those of 2,000 prisoners last week. Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana welcomed the confessions, saying the recent executions of 22 genocide convicts appeared to have had some effect. "This is a good thing and one of the positive repercussions of the government's decision to carry out the [death] sentence," he told a news conference.

HRFOR should revise its operation, Gasana says

Gasana also said the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HFROR) should "revise its methods of operation", Rwandan radio reported today. He urged it to "assist efficiently in enforcing human rights in Rwanda by mobilising Rwandans in the field of human rights". Discussions on HRFOR's new mandate were still underway, he added.

Genocide suspect transferred to Arusha

A former governor of Butare prefect, Alphonse Nteziryayo, has been transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha to face genocide charges, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Nteziryayo, who is also a former police chief, was arrested in Burkina Faso last month and extradited to the court.

Cholera epidemic discussed

Representatives from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo met in the southwest Rwandan town of Cyangugu earlier this month to discuss an outbreak of cholera in the three countries. According to a WHO report from the meeting, they agreed to coordinate activities to combat the disease, which this year so far has left 44 people dead in the South Kivu region of DRC.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Bleak situation in Sankuru region

A recent mission led by CRS and Memisa in Sankuru, in northern Kasai Oriental, reveals a bleak sanitary, health and infrastructure situation. A CRS spokesperson told IRIN today it was a "desperate situation, especially considering that preventable diseases are spreading". A mission report indicates that Sankuru region suffers from several endemic diseases such as TB, trypanosomiasis (Sleeping sickness), onchocerciasis (River blindness), leprosy and iodine defficiency, and experienced epidemics of monkey-pox this year and polio in 1996. Health structures are very poor as medical centres have no equipment and very little medicines, while health officers have not been paid for more than two years and work part-time in their fields. In addition the mission found there was no running water, and an estimated 90 percent of water sources are contaminated. CRS is currently preparing a programme to respond to the Sankuru situation. An estimated one million people live in the region.

Weapons cache discovered in major Kinshasa hotel

DRC radio last night reported that a cache of weapons was discovered in Kinshasa in the room of the Memling hotel's technical director - a Belgian who is currently away on holiday. As a result, the hotel's director Cornelius Bik who is Dutch, was arrested by the security services but was later released after questioning. A security official told the radio that the Belgian, Freddy Salverius, "was in touch with our enemies, members of the deposed regime". Relations between DRC and the former colonial power Belgium are already tense, following the seizure of weapons at the Belgian consulate in Lubumbashi earlier this year.

Rebels kill 30 at Goma checkpoint

Humanitarian sources told IRIN today some 30 people were killed at a checkpoint near Goma on Saturday night. Information is sketchy, but the attack was reportedly carried out by a group of rebels. A Belgian national is reportedly among the dead.

UGANDA: 42 Sudanese POWs freed

The Ugandan authorities have freed 42 Sudanese POWs in a "goodwill gesture", the state-owned 'New Vision' daily reported. The Sudanese soldiers are part of a group of 114 who were captured over a year ago in the northern Kitgum area. A senior army officer, quoted by the newspaper, said Uganda was now awaiting the return of two Ugandan soldiers held in Sudan and abducted Ugandan schoolgirls. However, a statement issued by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army today, reported by 'New Vision', said plans to free the girls had been put on hold. The LRA claimed the army was planning to attack the rebels during the handover, saying 5,000 troops had been sent to the handover area.

In another report, the daily said fresh incursions by Lord's Resistance Army rebels into the northern Lira district had displaced 10,000 people since last Friday. Over 50 people have reportedly been kidnapped and property looted.

Rail links with Kenya severed

Rail communication between Uganda and Kenya has been severed following heavy landslides and floods on the Kenyan side which have damaged bridges, the 'New Vision' reported yesterday. The worst damaged, according to a Kenya Railways official, was between Naivasha and Nairobi in the Rift Valley. A Ugandan railways official expressed concern over the situation, noting that 60 percent of Uganda's imports came by rail. The situation was exacerbated by ongoing repairs on the rail link with Tanzania.

Moi, Museveni discuss economic integration

Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, who is on a visit to Uganda, met President Yoweri Museveni for talks on East African economic integration. According to Ugandan radio, Moi said economic growth in Uganda "essentially means economic growth in Kenya". "Kenya cannot be taken in isolation of its neighbours, Uganda and Tanzania," Moi was quoted as saying.

Nairobi, 21 May 1998, 15:00 gmt


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Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 17:56:23 -0300 (GMT+3) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> ubject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 421 for 21 May 98.5.21 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980521175532.16525A-://

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

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