IRIN Update 465 for 23 July 1998.7.23

IRIN Update 465 for 23 July 1998.7.23

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. 465 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 23 July 1998)

BURUNDI: 2,000-3,000 displaced by fighting

The governor of Bujumbura Rural province, Stanislas Ntahobari, said 3,000 people had been displaced as a result of clashes between the army and rebels just south of Bujumbura. News reports quoted local residents in Mutambu commune as saying 20 people had been killed. The rebels reportedly belong to the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), the armed wing of PALIPEHUTU, and according to Ntahobari "they are trying to destabilise to make their presence known while the negotiations are underway in Arusha". He said the same thing had happened during the first round of negotiations in June. The displaced people have gathered in government-protected areas while the fighting continues.

Humanitarian sources told IRIN today (Thursday) they had reports some 2,000 people fled after a rebel attack in Mutambu commune last night. Three or four FNL groups are said to be carrying out attacks in the area.

FDD says it will "continue to protect the people"

Meanwhile Colonel Jean-Bosco Ndaykengurukiye, who heads the FDD breakaway faction of the CNDD rebel group, reiterated to BBC Kirundi radio that the Forces pour la defense de la democratie were not represented in Arusha. Therefore it would be difficult to adhere to decisions taken in Arusha. Asked whether FDD would abide by a ceasefire agreed by parties represented at the last Arusha talks, he replied "we shall continue to protect the people".

Little progress at Arusha talks

Burundi radio yesterday (Wednesday) said there had been no progress at the ongoing peace negotiations in Arusha. Smaller parties expressed unhappiness at their level of representation, which was limited to two each. According to the radio, these smaller parties - PALIPEHUTU, ANADDE, PP, AV Intwari and PSD - had grouped together in a new alliance. Delegations have again asked for more time to study draft rules and procedures. The independent Hirondelle news agency said the talks were adjourned yesterday until this morning. It added that another sticking point was whether the issue of lifting sanctions should be discussed in Arusha, as desired by the Burundi government.

Majority of Cibitoke displaced back in their homes

OCHA-Burundi says nearly 100,000 displaced people have been able to return to their homes in Cibitoke province over the last two months due to improved security. Only seven sites (out of a former total of 34) with about 13,600 displaced people now remain. OCHA said the provincial governor had indicated everyone would be back in their places of origin by the end of the month. Meanwhile MSF is to withdraw from Kirundo and Ngozi areas by the end of August, OCHA-Burundi said. MSF says the situation there has moved into the pre-development phase and an agency more specialised in development activities should take over support to the health sector.

TANZANIA: Mkapa calls for reduced military spending in Africa

President Benjamin Mkapa yesterday urged African governments to reduce military spending. Addressing a conference on demilitarising Africa, held in Arusha, he stressed it would be preferable to invest money in socio-economic development, especially education, the Hirondelle news agency reported. Seven African countries are participating in the conference. Participants noted that 13 African nations are currently embroiled in conflict which risked affecting the entire continent.

RWANDA: Belgian missionaries abducted by rebels

Two Belgian missionaries, belonging to the White Fathers, have been kidnapped by rebels in northwest Rwanda, according to news reports. They were abducted from Rwaza parish in Ruhengeri prefecture, but local church leaders said they did not fear for their safety, believing the recent spate of kidnapping religious workers is a ploy to gain publicity. "They (rebels) talk with them, put them up, treat them well during the day and move with them at night," AFP quoted Abbot Modeste of the Rwandan Episcopal Conference as saying.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Released aid worker narrates ordeal

An aid worker, recently released from detention in Kinshasa, has been talking about his ordeal. Fabrice Michelon of Medicins du Monde told Radio France Internationale he did not know why he was arrested in early May in Goma as he was boarding a flight to Uganda. He said he was "bewildered" by the DRC authorities' accusations that he was a "mercenary" and a "spy". Many of his fellow inmates in Kinshasa were former officials from the Mobutu era, others were people who had spoken out against President Laurent-Desire Kabila, he said.

Nine sentenced to death for trying to "change regime"

A self-proclaimed king from Bas-Congo province was jailed for 20 years and nine of his supporters sentenced to death on charges of trying to "change the established regime", news reports said. "King" Bernard Mizele, who has been calling for the secession of the Bas-Congo, Bandundu and Kinshasa provinces, was arrested at his home in Muanda, Bas-Congo, earlier this month. He had earlier fled Kinshasa after clashes broke out between his militia and government forces, in which eight people were killed.

UGANDA: UNHCR plans to mainstream assistance to Sudanese refugees

UNHCR and the Ugandan government have agreed to press ahead with plans to integrate services for Sudanese refugees with those offered to local populations, UNHCR Country Representative Johannes Thoolen told IRIN today. The government met UNHCR representatives on Wednesday to discuss refugee policy in northwestern Uganda, in a meeting also attended by donors, representatives of the World Bank and other UN agencies. Thoolen stressed the refugees affected by the policy of mainstreaming assistance were already in settlements as opposed to camps and living alongside local populations. He stressed the policy which aims to standardise services, such as health and education, received by both groups would help "contribute to development in the north" and facilitate the eventual return of the refugees. Thoolen said Uganda currently had a total refugee population of some 178,000 of which about 150,000 were from Sudan.

Rwanda refugees removed from contentious land

Some 1,800 Rwandan refugees have been removed from land claimed by locals in Mbarara district for safety reasons, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported. The government has decided to make land at Kyabishaho in Bukanga county available to the refugees, but humanitarian sources told IRIN that local residents are claiming it because it is very fertile. 'New Vision' said conflict over the contentious land flared up last month and the Mbarara district security committee has ordered the refugees moved until a solution can be found.

Riot police intervene in Somali refugee demonstration

In another incident in Mbarara town, riot police moved in yesterday to put down demonstrations by Somali refugees from the nearby Nakivale camp, humanitarian sources confirmed to IRIN. They said the protests were prompted by a decision to distribute maize rather than wheatflour to the refugees. 'New Vision' said there were "running battles" in Mbarara and business was paralysed. UNHCR in Kampala said the refugees' claims that they were starving were "nonsense".

The Ugandan army says it captured 671 rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) during a recent incursion by the rebel group into Uganda from Sudan. The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) also killed 179 LRA rebels and recovered 180 rifles in various clashes between April and June this year, the army's information officer Captain Shaban Bantariza was quoted by the 'New Vision' newspaper as saying. The LRA, active in northern Uganda, has wreaked havoc in the last few months and recently spurned an offer of peace talks from President Yoweri Museveni. "Out of 671 captives, 300 were accomplished rebels. Those are people who qualify to die without going home, but they are with us," Bantariza was quoted as saying.

SUDAN: UNICEF chief shocked by visit to Bahr al-Ghazal

UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, back from a visit to south Sudan, said she had witnessed "horrific suffering" in areas of Bahr al-Ghazal province. She told a news conference in Nairobi today the mortality rate in the area for children under five was 133 per 10,000 and for adults 70 per 10,000. The UNICEF boss, who visited the towns of Wau and Panthou, said she was especially shocked by rows of freshly-dug graves in Wau where 51 people had died only hours earlier. She reiterated that a three-month ceasefire, aimed at allowing humanitarian assistance to go ahead, was a very short time "given that this is a crisis that will last into 1999".

Nairobi, 23 July 1998, 15:00 gmt


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Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 17:46:26 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 465 for 23 July 1998.7.23 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980723174525.21179A-

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

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