IRIN Update 509 for 24 Sep 1998

IRIN Update 509 for 24 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. 509 Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 24 September 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Thousands flee fighting in south Kivu

Up to 20,000 civilians are on the move in south Kivu, fleeing attacks from loyalist troops, a rebel spokesman told IRIN today (Thursday). The rebel Vice-Governor of South Kivu Benjamin Serukiza said the situation was "very alarming". Government troops based in the lakeside town of Moba are moving northwards to launch "major attacks" on villages in the Vyura area, 180 km south of Kalemie, he said. The fleeing population, Serukiza said, is mainly ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge settled there since the 1960s. Serukiza appealed for humanitarian assistance for the displaced people. A senior OCHA official, Martin Griffiths, said in New York yesterday that 3,000 to 4,000 civilians in Lubumbashi might also have to be moved as the government may be unable to "assure their safety."

Central African summit opens

A central African summit, organised by Gabonese President Omar Bongo, to discuss "peace mechanisms" for resolving the DRC conflict opened in Libreville, capital of Gabon, today, news organisations reported. The meeting was attended by DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila and the presidents of Chad, the Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea. Cameroon, Angola and Namibia were also represented at the talks. African diplomatic sources said Angola, one of the first countries to support Kabila, was annoyed by indications he was forging ever closer ties with Sudan. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has opted not to attend the meeting. "He has clearly let him (Kabila) know that his rapprochement with... Sudan is a threat to all Central Africa," AFP quoted one diplomat as saying.

In a separate development, the Uganda parliament has backed the continued deployment of Ugandan troops in eastern DRC, newspapers reported today. President Yoweri Museveni told the parliament last week that Ugandan forces were in the country to prevent DRC-based Ugandan rebels from attacking Uganda.

Chadian involvement detailed

More details have emerged about the reported involvement of Chad in the DRC conflict. Begoto Oulator, editor-in-chief of the weekly 'N'Djamena Hebdo', told IRIN West Africa that 24 DRC cargo planes had arrived at the airport in the Chadian capital of N'Djamena on 18 September. Last week, the bi-weekly Chadian newspaper 'L'Observateur' reported that about 1,000 Chadian soldiers had been sent to the DRC to support President Laurent-Desire Kabila. A journalist with 'L'Observateur', Sie Kongo, told IRIN West Africa yesterday (Wednesday) that the reported deployment of the Chadian troops was financed by Libya to protect its strong economic interests in the DRC. This policy was part of a new rapprochement between Chad and Libya, he added. Kabila also flew to Libya last weekend as part of moves to consolidate his regional support. (For full report, see IRIN item: "DRC: Chadian involvement detailed")

UN envoy reports on DRC mission

Deputy UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths yesterday briefed the press corps at the UN's New York headquarters on his recent mission to the DRC and neighbouring countries. In a press statement received by IRIN today, Griffiths said he had raised with government and rebel representatives in the DRC their obligation to protect minorities and the need to avoid "inflammatory statements which may encourage ethnic violence." Griffiths said that the rebels had reported establishing a "commission of inquiry" to investigate alleged massacres of civilians in the rebel-held Kasika area of South Kivu last month.

Griffiths added that the humanitarian situation in Kinshasa was improving, with health, nutrition and water needs being addressed by agencies through a government-coordinated crisis committee. However, the situation in rebel-held Kisangani, Province Orientale, remained of great concern, he said.

BURUNDI: Refugees continue to arrive from DRC

The latest OCHA Humanitarian Situation report on Burundi, covering the period 14-20 September, indicates that 7,159 refugees have crossed from the DRC into Cibitoke since the start of the DRC rebellion in early August. This figure includes 2,516 Burundian refugees who returned to their home country. On 17 September, 585 people crossed, which was the highest number of new arrivals recorded in one day since the influx began.

The OCHA report also said that the fuel shortage in Burundi, resulting from the DRC crisis, has forced UN agencies and NGOs to start curtailing some of their visits to the field. UNICEF, WFP and UNHCR have been particularly affected, the report said, adding that the UN was pursuing efforts in Burundi and through the regional sanctions committee to alleviate the fuel shortage for humanitarian operations in the country.

RWANDA: Thirty-one plead guilty to genocide

Thirty-one people charged with genocide and crimes against humanity pleaded guilty in a Kigali court this week, the independent Hirondelle press agency said. Under Rwandan law, certain categories of genocide suspects can benefit from a reduced sentence if they plead guilty. The trial is set to resume on 14 October, Hirondelle said. The accused are being tried collectively as part of efforts to speed up the judgement of detained genocide suspects in the country, it added.

There are 126,078 people detained in Rwanda in connection with the 1994 genocide, of which 4,300 are women and 700 are minors, according to the latest available figures from the ICRC. There are also 735 children staying with a detained parent.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Elections set for November

The authorities in CAR have announced a new timetable for general elections, BBC reported yesterday. A first round of voting is to take place on 22 November, with a second round on 13 December, BBC said. The election had been scheduled to be held this month but was postponed at the request of the Independent Joint Electoral Commission, AFP reported last week.

Meanwhile, the government announced that it would import fuel supplies by road from Cameroon to alleviate a fuel shortage caused by the effects of the DRC crisis.

Nairobi, 24 September 1998 15:00 GMT


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Date: Thu, 24 Sep 1998 18:31:01 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 509 for 24 Sep 1998.9.24 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,