IRIN Update 511 for 28 Sep 1998

IRIN Update 511 for 28 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. 511 Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 28 September 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government says African support growing

DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi told the Associated Press (AP) on Saturday that DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila had received "preliminary agreement" from several central and West African countries to contribute troops for a military "intervention force." Contributing countries would include Congo-Brazzaville, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the other regional states who participated in a pro-Kabila summit organised on 24 September by Gabonese President Omar Bongo in Libreville. Chad, which also participated in the meeting, is already reported to have sent military support. (See IRIN Update 509 for 24 Sep 1998)

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's official Ziana news agency, quoting the military commander of the Zimbabwean forces, said on Sunday that troops from Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe would remain in the DRC in support of Kabila as long as the eastern part of the country was "occupied by the invasion forces."

DRC denies refugee recruitment charge

Meanwhile, Kabila's chief-of-staff, Abdoulaye Yerodia, denied that the DRC had recruited Rwandan Hutu refugees form Congo-Brazzaville to help combat the rebels. On Friday, a UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva told journalists that the agency was concerned about recent reports that an unspecified number of Rwandan asylum seekers were leaving camps in countries of central Africa to join the fighting in the DRC. "I formally and strongly deny the allegation by UNHCR," Yerodia said.

Rebels claim diplomatic success

The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) has received assurances from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that it would be included in future peace talks and would be a full party to any ceasefire agreement, RCD representative Bizima Karaha told AFP on Saturday. Karaha said the assurance was reached during two days of talks with SADC's executive committee in Lusaka, Zambia. Earlier regional peace talks organised by SADC and the OAU ended inconclusively because of rebel demands for negotiating directly with Kabila.

In further attempts to bolster their diplomatic support, rebels said on Sunday they had sent a representative, Jacques Depelchin, to meet unspecified American officials in Washington today (Monday), AP reported. It quoted rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba as saying Depelchin was the rebel movement's vice-president.

Ugandan and Rwandan presidents meet

Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda met in the western Ugandan town of Mbarara on Saturday to discuss the DRC conflict. The two leaders met to "harmonise their positions" on the crisis, AFP quoted Uganda's Regional Cooperation Minister Amama Mbabazi as saying. Among the issues discussed were the allegations that Kabila is recruiting Hutu militia associated with the 1994 Rwandan genocide, AFP said. Kabila accuses both Rwanda and Uganda of providing military support to the rebels. President Frederick Chiluba of Zambia and President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania met the Rwandan and Ugandan leaders on

19-20 September as part of SADC efforts to resolve the DRC crisis.

Meanwhile, Mbabazi was quoted by AFP as saying that Uganda would be "more than prepared" to fight in the DRC if allegations of Sudanese military support to Kabila proved true.

DRC bombs Ugandan village - report

DRC warplanes bombed the village of Bukaka in western Uganda on Sunday, but did not cause damage or casualties, AFP reported. Quoting a local official in nearby Bundibugyo, AFP said the bombs landed in an unpopulated area of Bukaka, located about five km from the DRC border along the Ruwenzori Mountains. It was the second air attack from the DRC since mid-August, the official said, adding that Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels have also been active in the area.

SUDAN: Khartoum orders general mobilisation

Sudan has ordered its militiamen and students to the front to join the fighting against south Sudanese rebels as part of a general mobilisation ordered to counter what Khartoum termed "Ugandan aggression", news organisations reported yesterday. Sudanese state television reported that Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting had called on "all the sons of the land capable of bearing arms to report to the general command of the armed forces to participate in the noble act of defending the nation and protecting the things it holds sacred." Meanwhile, state media also reported that President Omar al-Bashir visited the southern capital of Juba over the weekend and urged to stand firm against the rebel Sudan's People Liberation Army (SPLA). Last week, the SPLA said fighting had moved to within about 25 km of the government-held town - for years a strategic objective of the rebels. Meanwhile, a top army commander said government forces had killed both Ugandan and Eritrean soldiers in recent clashes in Eastern Equatoria. General Adam Hamid Musa said in a press statement, carried by the state news agency SUNA, that his forces had killed more than 450 "invaders", including 50 Ugandans. He added that Eritrean forces were also among the dead as they were among tank crews spearheading the attack south of the Torit and Liria area.

UN appeals for aid for flood victims

The UN appealed on Friday for nearly US $9 million to provide shelter, clean water and medicine to some 100,000 Sudanese left homeless by the worst flooding of the Nile for years. OCHA said in its latest report on the floods last week that some 12 out of Sudan's 26 states have now been affected, some 500 villages had been destroyed, the agricultural sector ravaged, and a total of one million people were now suffering from the impact.

BURUNDI: Refugee numbers detailed

By 23 September, the total number of refugees registered in camps in Cibitoke had increased to 7,822, OCHA Burundi reported in its latest Information Bulletin on the Humanitarian Situation in the country. Of these, it said 42 percent were children aged between five and 14, 23 percent were children under-five, a further 24 percent were women and the remaining 11 percent were men. The report added that UNHCR and other agencies were continuing to hold regular contingency planning meetings to ensure that the humanitarian community was prepared as best as possible for a continued and "potentially far larger influx" of people due to insecurity in DRC. The information bulletin also said the number of unaccompanied children (UAC) in Burundi could now be as high as 4,500.

UNHCR repatriation update

According to UNHCR statistics, quoted in the OCHA bulletin, as of 23 September over 275,000 Burundians continued to live as refugees in camps in Tanzania. Since the beginning of 1998, UNHCR has facilitated the return of over 7,500 people from Tanzania, mainly to Muyinga and Ruyigi provinces where currently an average of 400 and 200 Burundians respectively are repatriated each week.

FAO details embargo effect on food prices

FAO, which has monitored market prices in Bujumbura since the imposition of regional sanctions in July 1996, says the average weekly expenditure for a basket of basic food items to cover the needs of an average family had now risen to 11,440 Burundian francs. This represents an overall increase of 119 percent on the 5,228 Burundian francs registered in July 1996. The official exchange rate on 24 September stood at 472 francs to US $1.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Ten killed in Pool attack

Ten people were killed in the Pool region on Saturday morning in a shoot-out between "armed bandits" and government forces, news agencies reported. RFI said the authorities suspect the attack, in the village of Goma Tse-Tse located about 20 km from Brazzaville, was carried out by Ninja militia allied to former Brazzaville mayor Bernard Kolelas and that it may have targeted two government ministers in the area. The ministers were unharmed, but a deputy prefect of the area was among those killed, RFI said. The attack was the fourth in the region over the past month, with the three previous incidents claiming 12 lives, RFI reported.

UNITED NATIONS: Security Council to discuss humanitarian assistance

The UN Security Council on Tuesday is scheduled to discuss the report of the Secretary-General on Protection of Humanitarian Assistance to Refugees and Others in Conflict Situations. In the report, Secretary-General Kofi Annan referred to the "ever more violent and volatile environments in which refugees, displaced persons and other victims of conflicts find themselves." The report also discusses the "erosion of respect for humanitarian norms" and how humanitarian action is undermined by inadequate political action to address conflict.

On Thursday, the Security Council reaffirmed its commitment to Africa in the areas of conflict prevention and the maintenance of international peace and security. In a presidential statement, the Council recognized the positive development in Africa over the past year but also expressed concern over the emergence of new conflicts, including in the DRC. It stressed that the quest for peace in Africa required a comprehensive approach, encompassing the eradication of poverty, promotion of democracy, sustainable development and respect for human rights as well as conflict prevention and resolution, including humanitarian assistance.

Nairobi, 28 September 15:00 GMT


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Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 18:21:29 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 511 for 28 Sep 1998.9.28 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,