IRIN Update 508 for 23 Sep 1998

IRIN Update 508 for 23 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. 508 Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 23 September 1998)


Reuters reported that a military camp in rebel-held Goma was attacked today (Wednesday) by a coalition of Rwandan Interahamwe militia and Mayi-Mayi fighters. Quoting rebel officials, the agency said that at least 56 people were killed in the attack on Ndosha military camp, located about four km north of Goma.

New peace initiative in Gabon

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila and Cameroon's Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge have arrived in Libreville, capital of Gabon, to participate in a central African summit tomorrow on the DRC crisis, news agencies reported. The summit, organised by Gabonese President Omar Bongo, will discuss "peace mechanisms" for resolving the DRC conflict. AFP reported today that the presidents of Chad, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Congo-Brazzaville were also expected to participate in the talks.

Foreign military intervention criticised back home

The foreign ministers of Zimbabwe and Namibia defended their military support to Kabila during their addresses to the UN General Assembly yesterday (Tuesday) in the face of mounting criticism of the policy back home. Zimbabwean legislators last week were angry that they had not been consulted before the soldiers were deployed to aid Kabila and many Zimbabweans are saying that the human and financial costs of the country's intervention are not justified, news organisations reported. Similar public criticism is reported in Namibia.

Meanwhile, Uganda's parliament is planning to vote on a motion that would call on the government to withdraw Ugandan soldiers from the DRC, the 'Monitor' newspaper reported yesterday. President Yoweri Museveni on 16 September told parliament that Ugandan troops were in the DRC but that they were not directly involved in the current war.

US warns of potential "genocide"

State Department spokesman James Rubin yesterday called on all foreign forces to withdraw from the DRC and urged other countries not to get involved in the conflict. He cited the involvement of Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe and said the US was also "deeply disturbed" about the reported involvement of Sudan, Chad, Rwandan Hutu Interahamwe and ex-FAR soldiers, a Reuters report said. Their involvement could lead to "a resurgence of genocide in the region," Rubin was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Uganda's 'New Vision' newspaper reported yesterday that about 700 Ugandan rebels had been flown to the DRC to support Kabila. The newspaper, quoting Ugandan security sources and DRC rebels, said the fighters were flown from Sudan, together with Sudanese troops, and that they included fighters from the LRA, UNRF, WNBF and ADF rebel groups.

Human rights violations reported in South Kivu

At least 2,000 people have been killed by rebel forces in the Bukavu and Uvira areas of South Kivu between 2 August and 15 September, according to a DRC human rights organisation. In a report received by IRIN today, the Comite d'action pour le developpement (CADI) charges that rebels soldiers and their Rwandan and Ugandan allies have committed grave violations of human rights - including arbitrary arrests, torture, extortion and summary executions - since gaining control of the province in early August.

The report also claims that more than 648 people were killed on 23-24 August in the Kazika area of South Kivu. (Previous reports had indicated that 207 people were killed in the Kazika massacres). The report also details the killing by local authorities and residents of about 250 Banyamulenge in Uvira in the days just prior to the town's capture by rebel forces in early August.

Food situation precarious in Kisangani

Humanitarian sources in contact with Kisangani told IRIN yesterday that food is scarce and drug supplies are dwindling, as the rebel-held city's main supply lines remain blocked. While there were no visible signs of increased malnutrition or outbreaks of diseases in the city, the humanitarian situation was becoming increasingly fragile, according to the reports. People have been depending on the city's food and drug stocks, which are now almost depleted, and the price of available food supplies was beyond the purchasing power of most people. Onions, for example, are cut in four and sold for US $1 a quarter, one source noted.

The sources said the city was relatively calm, but the population was living in fear. Shops and business were open only two or three hours a day and there was little movement on the streets. Electricity and running water systems were functioning, but there was a need to ensure replenishment of water-treatment chemicals, the sources said, adding that the local authorities had indicated that regular civilian flights between Goma and Kisangani would resume shortly.

SUDAN: Ceasefire talks slated for 5 October

An official government newspaper today quoted an army spokesman as saying Khartoum's forces had killed more than 70 Ugandan troops in recent fighting in southern Sudan. The 'Al-Anbaa' newspaper said Lieutenant-General Abdel Rahman al-Khatim reported the army was in full control in all areas where it was confronted by Ugandan forces. "Seventy-five tanks, three armoured vehicles and a number of trucks have been destroyed and over 70 (Ugandans) killed," al-Khatim was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, a senior EU aid official has said the main warring parties in Sudan's civil war had agreed to meet in Nairobi in October to discuss extending a ceasefire they agreed earlier in the year to allow food deliveries to reach hungry people in Bahr al-Ghazal. Albert Navarro, Director of the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), said representatives of the Khartoum government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) would meet in Nairobi on 5 October to discuss extending the truce which formally expires on 15 October. Navarro returned this week from Sudan after leading a mission which included representatives from the German and Austrian foreign affairs ministries and Britain's DFID overseas aid arm. The mission said they were told by UNICEF the situation in Ajiep had improved and mortality rates had fallen from 63/10,000/day to 3/10,000/day. WFP barge convoy loaded

WFP said a Sobot river barge convoy was expected to leave Kosti tomorrow and would deliver food to some 107,995 beneficiaries in 38 locations along the Sobat river corridor in the Upper Nile region. It said most of a total of 1,244 mt of food had now been loaded and the barges were ready for departure.

RWANDA: Rights report says rebels well-organised

Hutu rebels have little hope in the near future of seizing power from the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan government but they still pose a long-term threat, according to a new report on human rights in Rwanda. The report, by the London-based African Rights group, says most of Rwanda remained relatively calm over the past year, but parts of the northwest were at times virtually under the control of rebels operating from neighbouring DRC. Critically, however, the report paints a picture of a vastly better-organised and disciplined Hutu rebel force than previously thought by many observers - a fact confirmed to IRIN by diplomatic sources who have visited the rebel headquarters near Masisi. "From this (northwest) power base the insurgents aim to overthrow the current government, or at least force it to negotiate," the report says. Despite government soldiers regularly being punished for atrocities, the report says local Hutu populations are angered by counter-insurgency operations and "see no justification for the harsh tactics". The report also details pockets of resistance to the rebels, however. Describing attacks on schools in the northwest, African Rights says children refused to separate themselves into groups of Hutus and Tutsis when confronted by rebels and were slaughtered together. "The deaths of all these children were tragic in themselves and for the country; they represented the seeds of hope for future unity and peace in Rwanda." (African Rights e-mail:

BURUNDI: Buyoya pleads for end to sanctions

In his address yesterday to the UN General Assembly in New York, President Pierre Buyoya appealed for the lifting of regional sanctions imposed on his country on 31 July 1996 in response to a military takeover of the government. Buyoya, who was brought back to power as a result of the military putsch, said the sanctions were destroying the economic and social fabric of Burundian society. He said the National Assembly, which was elected in 1993, and the military-led government had begun a dialogue which had resulted in an agreement on political partnership.

Nairobi, 23 September 1998 15:00 GMT


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Date: Wed, 23 Sep 1998 18:27:52 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 508 for 23 Sep 1998.9.23 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,