IRIN Update 499 for 10 Sep 1998.9.10

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IRIN Update No. 499 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 10 September 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: DRC ceasefire talks open in Addis

Ministers from seven African countries met at the OAU headquarters in Addis Ababa today (Thursday) to discuss implementation of a ceasefire in DRC, AFP reported. It said the talks were attended by Zambia's defence minister and representatives from DRC, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim. No further details were immediately available.

Meanwhile, the number two in the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, warned yesterday (Wednesday) the movement could not be bypassed in a search for a settlement of the conflict in DRC. Bukavu rebel radio, monitored by the BBC, quoted him as saying that after the "ill-treatment" the movement received at this week's abortive peace talks at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, RCD leaders would no longer go to countries hostile to the movement.

SABENA restarts flights to Kinshasa

Belgium's national airline SABENA announced today it was resuming flights to the DRC capital Kinshasa, but was introducing a US $300 surcharge on every ticket. Reuters reported that Sabena said in a statement in Brussels that security conditions in the capital were now sufficient to resume its regular schedule of four flights a week to Kinshasa. Flights were suspended on 14 August.

Civilian killings reported in South Kivu

Local sources in South Kivu reported that rebel forces and Rwandan troops had killed civilians and burnt houses in retaliation for attacks by Mayi-Mayi and isolated pockets of stranded government soldiers around Bukavu. It also noted that several local dignitaries had been arrested and their whereabouts were unknown, creating fear among the local population. Other local sources have reported armed robberies and rapes in the South Kivu capital. Congolese refugees arriving in western Tanzania have also reported killings of civilians near Uvira and Fizi. Meanwhile, UNHCR has reported that the influx of Congolese in Tanzania continued this week at a rate of some 180 refugees per day. A group of 30 Rwandans arrived last week along with Congolese refugees in Kigoma, a UNHCR report said. The Rwandans declared they were living in the Fizi area after the dismantling of UNHCR camps near Uvira in October 1996. They reported many others were stranded around Fizi in poor conditions.

Kinshasa to receive emergency supplies

Efforts are underway to arrange for the delivery of emergency supplies to Kinshasa to address the precarious food and water situation in the city. WFP is planning to send in about 4,500 mt of food aid to Kinshasa from neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville for distribution to more than 100,000 children, hospital patients and other vulnerable groups. ICRC is planning to fly in chemicals to resupply the city's water-treatment plants, according to Reuters. An aid worker told IRIN: "We have the supplies ready, we just can't get them in Kinshasa." While attempts to deliver relief supplies by boat across the Congo River have had little success, negotiations are taking place with DRC authorities to enable the airlifting of relief supplies directly to Kinshasa airport, humanitarian agencies reported.

Humanitarian sources in Kinshasa reported that electricity had been restored to various areas of the capital. UNICEF's representative in Kinshasa, Ibrahim Jabr, told Reuters that the return of electrical power will ease the plight of residents and make it easier to resupply the city with essential goods. Rebels had reportedly sabotaged the power lines between the Inga hydro-electric power station and Kinshasa. They added that most of the people displaced by fighting in the outskirts of the capital and near the airport had returned to their homes. It has not been possible yet to establish the number of civilian casualties from the fighting.

RWANDA: Akagera national park further reduced for resettlement

The Akagera National Park, which formerly covered 25,000 hectares, will be further reduced to resettle displaced populations, OCHA-Rwanda reported. The size of the park has been diminished over a period of time and will now cover just 9,000 hectares. The remaining park will reportedly be developed for tourism. Cattle grazing has been prohibited.

Rebel group threatens WFP

Over 70 people have disappeared in Byumba prefecture since June, mostly from communes bordering the northern Ruhengeri prefecture. According to humanitarian sources, the armed wing of the PALIR Hutu rebel organisation last month wrote to WFP telling it to stop supplying food to the region. PALIR accuses WFP of "supporting government concentration camps" and has threatened to attack WFP trucks travelling to Gisenyi and Ruhengeri.

Two genocide suspects get death sentence

Two genocide suspects were sentenced to death yesterday by a court in Nyamata, Kigali-Rural prefecture, Rwandan radio reported. Three others received life imprisonment.

BURUNDI: MSF reveal new nutritional survey

A survey, conducted in early August, by MSF in Cankuso province, northeastern Burundi, shows that the global malnutrition rate for children under-five has reached 10 percent and severe malnutrition 2.7 percent. Following this survey, the first one in the province, MSF has recommended maintaining its feeding programmes in the province. Cankuzo has been least affected by insecurity and is also the only province that does not have a site for displaced people.

SUDAN: OLS says food crisis in south will persist for one year

Although the peak of the famine has passed, the people of southern Sudan will continue to experience a serious food crisis for at least the next 12 months, OLS officials said yesterday. The upcoming harvest in December will be poor due to late and erratic rains, lack of seeds and the impact of the conflict, according to OLS officials. The earliest hopes for an end to the acute food crisis therefore lie in the October 1999 harvest, they added.

At a Nairobi press conference, OLS Coordinator Carl Tinstman said that while the number of hunger-related deaths was still "unacceptably high," there had been a "dramatic improvement" in the humanitarian situation since the peak of the famine six weeks ago. In the Ajiep area of the southern province of Bahr el-Ghazal currently being recorded, deaths were down from about 40-50 deaths a day registered in mid-July. OLS delivered 14,970 mt of food aid to southern Sudan in August, meeting its food-aid target for that month, according to WFP.

Meanwhile, WFP reported that all but six locations requested by the OLS southern sector for the delivery of humanitarian assistance during the month of September were approved by the Government of Sudan, correcting an earlier report detailed in IRIN Update 496. The unapproved locations are Yomcir, Boma, Panyagor, Ikotos, Mundri and Maridi.

Over 200,000 families made homeless by floods

The Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported yesterday that 204,000 families had been made homeless by heavy rains and flooding in nine northeastern states, and three million feddans of cultivated land had been engulfed by water. Quoting the Sudanese Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, SUNA said the most urgent needs were for tents, basic medicines and food. According to an OCHA situation report on the floods, Sudan's Ministry of Irrigation has warned that the water levels will continue to rise, with the level of the Blue Nile 185 km southeast of Khartoum already 90 cm higher than in 1988, a year of record floods. OCHA is sending a staff member form Geneva to Khartoum to assist in the mobilisation and coordination of international relief efforts.

Floods also hitting southern Sudan

Floods are also threatening people in southern Sudan's Jonglei State, where several villages have already been wiped out, AFP reported today. Citing the state governor, AFP said that thousands of families had fled the area as a result of the floods, with some taking refugee in the Ethiopian Highlands. The governor appealed for assistance to cope with critical flood-induced food shortages and health hazards in his state.

Aid provided to conflict-affected near Kassala

ICRC has begun distributing blankets and other relief items to hundreds of families displaced by fighting on the Eritrea-Sudan border, AFP reported. Some 60,000 people have sought refugee in six displaced persons camps near Kassala since March as a result of fighting between government and opposition forces in the area, according to AFP. Meanwhile, the Southern Sudan Defense Force (SSDF) claimed it had recaptured Bentiu and two other towns in Wihdah State from the rival United Southern Sudan Forces (USSF), AFP reported. The two factions have been battling for control of Wihdah State for several months, it added.

Nairobi, 10 September 1998 15:00 GMT


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Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 18:22:08 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 499 for 10 Sep 1998.9.10 Message-ID:

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,