UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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. 459 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 15 July 1998)
SUDAN: SPLA declares ceasefire in Bahr al-Ghazal
The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) today (Wednesday) declared a "unilateral and unconditional" three-month ceasefire in Bahr al-Ghazal to allow food aid to reach famine victims. "For humanitarian reasons, the SPLA today at 15:00 hours (12:00 gmt) 15 July declared a unilateral ceasefire for a period of three months covering the whole of Bahr al-Ghazal region," the SPLA said in a press release issued in Nairobi.
The statement said the move was a "humanitarian truce" limited to areas seriously affected by famine and "has nothing to do with issues of war and peace in the Sudan". It said the ceasefire was instead linked to the opening up of three proposed "corridors of tranquillity" to enable the UN and the international community to increase delivery of humanitarian assistance. "In this regard, we call upon the Government of Sudan to reciprocate and restrain its militias in Southern Kordofan and Southern Darfur," the statement added.
SPLA spokesman Justin Yaac told IRIN the decision to halt the fighting was in response to numerous appeals from the international community to the warring parties to agree a truce. Yaac stressed the SPLA gesture was a unilateral action. "We did not agree (anything) with the Sudan government, this is not a truce. We acted in consideration of appeals from the British government, (Kenyan) President Moi, NGOs and the United Nations," he told IRIN. He added, however, that the SPLA expected the Khartoum government to "reciprocate the goodwill" and stop further aggression until 15 October, the date of the expiry of the ceasefire.
Yaac's announcement came after talks yesterday (Tuesday) in Nairobi between senior SPLA officials and a junior British foreign office minister, Derek Fatchett. Fatchett, who has been trying to broker a limited truce in the country's civil war, arrived in Khartoum today for talks with the government side. The proposals have the backing of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional grouping trying to end the war. On Tuesday, WFP said thousands of hungry Sudanese were pouring into government-held garrison towns in the south to escape fresh fighting and food shortages. Reuters also reported Yaac as saying the SPLA had repulsed a big government offensive on the town of Ulu in Blue Nile province.
WFP details food deliveries
WFP has detailed its food deliveries in southern Sudan for the month of June. In its latest weekly report, the agency said it had delivered some 6,400 mt.
Deliveries by air and by road were as follows:
1,037 mt by air ex-El Obeid; 3,955 mt by air ex-Lokichokio; 659 mt by road ex-Lokichokio; 744 mt by road ex-Koboko; 20 mt by road ex-Nzara. Out of this figure, 4,018 mt of relief food were delivered and distributed to some 590,000 beneficiaries in Bahr al-Ghazal. To deliver the 6,400 mt, a total of 282 flights by C-130 transport planes and 71 Buffalo flights took place. The total delivered by air was 4,991 mt and the total delivered by road was 1,426 mt.
BURUNDI: Government says embargo must be lifted
The Burundi government has stressed its determination to continue with the Arusha peace process. In a statement, received today by IRIN, the foreign ministry however appealed to friendly countries to "create an environment conducive to lasting peace", specifically the lifting of the regional embargo. The statement said the sanctions were an obstacle to progress in the peace talks and brought about a "climate of mistrust in inter-regional relations". The government also urged the international community to become more involved in efforts for peace in Burundi.
Kenya says conditions met for lifting sanctions
Kenya today said Burundi had complied with conditions set for lifting the sanctions. "It is important that the regional states begin to give some encouragement by lifting or at least relaxing the sanctions further," Foreign Minister Boyana Godana told reporters in Nairobi. He said the sanctions had "distorted trade flows" in the region, which only benefited countries from outside the region who had "taken advantage to get inside the market". "We may have different opinions about the timing for lifting or relaxing the sanctions, but there are no major disagreements between the regional states," Godana said.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Human Rights Watch criticises UN over report
Human Rights Watch has strongly criticised the Security Council for what it says is a weak response to allegations of human rights abuse in DRC. Late on Monday, the Security Council condemned massacres, other atrocities and violations of humanitarian law committed in former Zaire and called on the authorities to investigate allegations of such abuses contained in the report of the UN human rights investigative team, published on 29 June.
"Simply calling on the Congolese and Rwandan governments to investigate and prosecute their own officials makes no sense," said Peter Takirambudde, the Africa Director of Human Rights Watch. "It's an insult to the victims. Both governments have already failed to cooperate with previous UN probes of these crimes." The DRC government says the report is based on false information and has rejected its conclusions.
DRC-Namibia leaders discuss Angola
The leaders of Namibia and DRC held talks yesterday with their Angolan counterpart on the troubled peace process in the southern African country, Reuters reported quoting state radio. It said President Laurent-Desire Kabila, Namibia's Sam Nujoma and Angolan President Eduardo dos Santos noted the peace process was now at "an extremely critical point with instability spreading to many regions."
On Tuesday, the spokesman for the Office of the Secretary-General, Fred Eckhard, told reporters in New York that the situation in the south-eastern corner of DRC - where thousands of Angolans started arriving one month ago - was worsening with new arrivals and a lack of food. He said there were now an estimated 22,000 refugees in the area after another 7,000 fled fighting this week between government troops and the former UNITA rebel movement. He said the the Humanitarian Coordinator's Unit in Angola had meanwhile reported the number of newly-displaced people in the country now stood at more than 75,000.
MSF fight sleeping sickness
MSF today started a programme in Yakamba, northern Equateur province to combat sleeping sickness. The NGO told IRIN they had chosen Yakamba because of an estimated prevalence rate of the disease as high as eight percent and the lack of any treatment facilities in that area. It added that trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness, had always been present in the area, but more cases had recently been noted. MSF plans to stay at least three years in Yakamba and aims to reduce the prevalence rate to 0.5 percent.
DRC Health Minister Jean-Baptiste Sondji, during a recent visit in Equateur province, said he was concerned by an increase in the number of people suffering from the disease. He added that the disease had almost disappeared in the 1960s, but had reappeared due to neglect of the health sector during the rule of the late ex-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: UNICEF details measles vaccination campaign
A total of some 117,744 children in Pointe-Noire, Congo's economical capital, have been vaccinated against measles in a UNICEF-supported campaign, the agency said in its latest situation report on the country. The government-conducted vaccination managed to reach 93 percent of the targeted population.
UNICEF said that in Pointe-Noire, as in the rest of the country, virtually no children had been immunized over the past year due to a serious lack of vaccines and the disruption of the country's regular vaccination programme because of the 1997 civil war. UNICEF says that as a result preventable diseases will probably kill more children this year than bullets and bombs did last year.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Security Council extends MINURCA mandate
The Security Council unanimously voted yesterday to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) until 25 October. In the resolution, the 15-member body called upon the CAR government to adopt a plan for organising legislative elections. Among its functions, MINURCA is to provide advice and technical support for those elections, tentatively scheduled for August or September 1998. The Security Council also called on the government to adopt as soon as possible a plan for the effective restructuring of its armed forces.
Nairobi, 15 July 1998 15:00 GMT
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Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 18:14:43 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 459 for 15 July 1998.7.15 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980715181226.30064Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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