IRIN Update 507 for 22 Sep 1998

IRIN Update 507 for 22 Sep 1998

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 Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

IRIN Update No. 507 Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 22 September 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels claim further advances

Rebels claim to have captured the South Kivu town of Kamituga, located about 80 km southwest of Bukavu, news agencies reported today (Tuesday). However, it was not possible to confirm the claim independently. Informed sources in contact with Isiro in Province Orientale told IRIN today that Isiro was calm and under the control of rebel forces. Meanwhile, a government claim that its forces shot down a rebel aircraft at Bukavu airport yesterday (Monday) was disputed by rebels and diplomatic sources who said the area was quiet.

Sudan involvement realleged

Rebel leaders have reiterated their allegations that Sudanese soldiers are fighting in the DRC in support of Kabila, news agencies reported. Military commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane told Associated Press that 10 Sudanese solders were captured during recent battles in the east, while deputy rebel leader Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma told Uganda's 'New Vision' newspaper that 2,000 Sudanese troops had taken "front-line positions" at Kalemie and Kindu to replace Angolan soldiers. The governments of both Sudan and the DRC have denied any Sudanese military involvement in the conflict.

France, meanwhile, announced today it would start withdrawing the approximately 500 troops it had stationed in Brazzaville in the Congo Republic to be ready to intervene across the Congo River into Kinshasa.

Tutsis still detained in Kinshasa

The ICRC has gained access to another 111 mainly ethnic Tutsis detained by authorities in Kinshasa in connection with the conflict. In a statement received by IRIN, the ICRC said it first visited the group, detained at the Kinshasa Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Centre, on 14 September. The DRC Minister of Human Rights told Reuters yesterday that the government was seeking alternative sites for about 175 Tutsis detained under poor conditions at Kinshasa's Kokolo military camp. ICRC has been conducting regular visits to the Kokolo detainees since 19 August.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean commanders fighting in the DRC have accused Congolese soldiers of ill-treating wounded rebels captured on the outskirts of Kinshasa at the end of August, the 'Zimbabwe Standard' newspaper reported yesterday. Quoting military sources, the newspaper said Zimbabwean commanders have also charged that "poorly-trained" Congolese troops were mistreating ethnic Tutsi civilians suspected of supporting the rebels.

Food distributed amid rising child malnutrition

WFP yesterday started distributing relief food to feeding centres catering to malnourished children in the Masina, N'djili and other areas of Kinshasa affected by fighting between government forces and rebels last month. Surveys are currently underway in Kinshasa to determine the exact impact of the crisis on the nutritional status of the population. Stefano Porretti, WFP's officer-in-charge in Kinshasa, told IRIN today that preliminary results of the surveys indicate that the number of malnourished children in the city's feeding centres had increased by about 25-30 percent since the

beginning of August. While the price of some basic food items had started to decrease, they were still very high compared to the purchasing power of the population, Porretti added.

DRC-Rwanda conflict linked

Ethnic killings which occur in northwest Rwanda with "alarming regularity" are fanning the conflict in neighbouring DRC, according to a report released today by the human rights watchdog body, 'Africa Rights'. The organisation warned the conflict in DRC, where Tutsi-led rebels rose up against the government on 2 August, could have major regional implications due to the interweaving of political and military events in the Kivu region and Rwanda. The 263-page report maintained the Masisi area north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu, was populated by ethnic Hutus of Rwandan origin and is the largest base of the Rwandan rebels. (Africa Rights e-mail:

RWANDA: Kagame meets Kenya's Moi

Vice-President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame today held talks in Nairobi with Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. State radio said the discussions focused on important bilateral and regional issues "especially those touching on the Democratic Republic of Congo", but gave no other details.

Soldiers kill seven

Two armed soldiers killed seven people and injured four others in an attack on Sunday in Mininja in Mwira commune in Gitarama prefecture, Rwandan radio reported yesterday. It said the two soldiers followed the victims to a bar, opened fire and threw grenades inside. Local residents alerted government troops who arrested the two soldiers. Under questioning, they said the attack was in revenge for the killing of a relative.

French parliamentary delegation arrive in Kigali

A parliamentary delegation probing France's role before and during the 1994 genocide arrived in Kigali today to begin what is considered to be the most sensitive part of its mission. Two deputies in the team, Bernard Cazeneuve and Pierre Brana, will remain in Kigali until Thursday, AFP reported. They are due to meet the speaker of parliament and several ministers, but President Pasteur Bizimungu and Kagame have declined to meet the two deputies. The current government maintains France has blood on its hands due to its support of the previous Hutu-led government of late-president Juvenal Habyarimana.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: House arrest lifted on former minister

The CAR government has lifted a house arrest order on former agriculture minister Charles Massi, AFP reported members of his entourage as saying. Massi had been under house arrest since being sacked from the government last December in connection with a case involving the sale of diamonds while he was minister of mines. Restrictions had already been relaxed in August.

Gabonese Africa No 1 radio, meanwhile, reported the conflict in DRC had disrupted river traffic and caused a severe fuel shortage in CAR. It said the level of fuel stocks had reached "alarming proportions" and to avoid a shortage, the minister of mines and energy had just set up a minimum fuel supply programme. Fuel loadings destined for CAR have now been waiting in Kinshasa port for over two months.

SUDAN: German planes boost WFP fleet

WFP said today the first of two German C-160 Transall planes to join its fleet had delivered supplies to some 70,000 displaced and hungry people in Wau. It said the second C-160 would start operations over the coming days. The German planes, which can carry seven mt of food each, are the first military-operated aircraft to be used by WFP in the current emergency operation. Operating out of WFP's relief base at El Obeid, the planes will airdrop and airlift food supplies to key areas of southern Sudan for the next eight weeks.

REMINDER: Information exchange meeting

OCHA will hold another DRC information exchange meeting tomorrow at 10:00 am at OCHA premises opposite Gigiri complex. All welcome.

Nairobi, 22 September 1998 15:00 GMT


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Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 18:33:19 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 507 for 22 Sep 1998.9.22 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,