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IRIN Update No. 517 Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 6 October 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels say Kindu battle raging
The fight for Kindu in Maniema province was continuing today (Tuesday) between rebels and government forces, news organisations reported. A rebel commander in Kalima, a town 80 km to the north captured by rebels on Saturday, told AFP that his troops had entered Kindu at about 6 a.m. today and that fighting was taking place on the city's streets. There was no independent confirmation of the rebel claim. Earlier, the rebels backed off from a claim made yesterday (Monday) that they had already captured the airport at Kindu, which is the government's forward military headquarters.
Stolen vehicles returned in Bukavu
The Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) has returned a number of vehicles which had been stolen from organisations and individuals, Bukavu radio reported yesterday, monitored by the BBC. RCD Foreign Affairs representative Bizima Karaha presided over a handing-over ceremony in Bukavu on Saturday. The vehicles were recovered with the help of local military officials, the radio said.
Food situation improving in Kinshasa
The food situation has improved considerably in Kinshasa since mid-September, but there is still of shortage of some staple foods, humanitarian sources report. While market mechanisms have rapidly picked up with the resumption of access to Matadi port, food items normally supplied from eastern DRC - in particular palm oil and beans - are in short supply in the capital. A shortage of maize is also reported. High prices and lack of salary payments have also negatively impacted the food-security status of many families.
Data collected by WFP in 18 of the city's estimated 120 nutrition centres indicate that the number of assisted severely-malnourished children has increased by about 40 percent since July, WFP Kinshasa Officer-in-Charge Stefano Porretti told IRIN today. WFP continues to provide food aid to some 30,000 children in feeding centres and orphanages. Another 13,000 vulnerable people, including hospital patients and families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by conflict in late August, are also benefiting from the emergency programme, Porretti said. Over 250 mt of food have been provided since the WFP distributions started last month, he added.
Hundreds still arriving in Uvira from Katanga
Hundreds of displaced people, fleeing fighting in Katanga province, continue to arrive in Uvira, Banyamulenge sources told IRIN today. On Sunday, 839 arrivals were reported, in addition to 322 people who arrived last week. There are 48 non-accompanied children. The sources said the people were in a poor condition and urgently in need of help. About 5,000 more people have reportedly arrived in Kalemie, awaiting transport to Uvira, the sources added.
TANZANIA: Hundreds of unaccompanied children among refugees
A total of 12,149 refugees have arrived in western Tanzania since the beginning of August, including 9,380 Congolese and 2,769 Burundians, according to UNHCR figures. Between 1-4 October, 567 Congolese refugees crossed Lake Tanganyika to the Kigoma area, mainly from the Fizi and Kalemie areas of eastern DRC. Refugees arriving from the village of Yungu south of Kalemie have reported that other Congolese wishing to cross are stranded due to lack of money and boats as well as rebel restrictions on free movement. Over 380 unaccompanied minors, mostly between 10 and 15 years old, have been registered among the Congolese arrivals in Kigoma since early August.
RWANDA: Chinese embassy denies supporting Kabila
The Chinese embassy in Kigali has denied rebel claims that Beijing is selling weapons to Kabila's forces, the Rwanda News Agency reported. An embassy official told RNA China was neutral in the conflict and was trying to promote dialogue between the two sides.
UN urged to condemn Kabila's "genocide"
The Rwandan government has urged the UN to condemn the "genocide" of Tutsis underway in the DRC, news agencies reported. Addressing the UN General Assembly on Friday, Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana said steps must also be taken against President Kabila whose regime "incites the populace to genocide, to massacres and to racial and ethnic hatred". He reiterated the comments on his return to Rwanda yesterday, adding that Rwanda believed DRC must find a solution to the problem of citizenship. "We cannot continue to have stateless people on our borders," he said, according to Rwandan radio. In addition, DRC had to resolve the issue of armed insurgencies operating from its territory and form a proper national army as well as a transitional government.
Army flushing out rebels in northwest
Army operations are underway in northwest Rwanda to flush out Interahamwe insurgents some of whom are reportedly fleeing fighting in DRC's Masisi area, the Rwanda News Agency said. Soldiers killed six "infiltrators" near Vunga in Gisenyi prefecture last night following a series of clashes in the area between the army and rebels. More and more people are arriving at a displaced people's camp in Gatonde commune in neighbouring Ruhengeri prefecture, where 16 rebels were killed last week, RNA added.
BURUNDI: Reconciliation meetings held ahead of Arusha talks
Meetings are being held under various fora, ahead of the planned resumption of the Arusha peace talks next Monday. Burundians from the diaspora met in Nairobi last week at a meeting organised by the Burundi organisation, Compagnie des apotres de la paix (CAP). The meeting brought together people from both the Hutu and Tutsi communities. Burundian government and military officials were also present. One Burundian who attended the meeting told IRIN the participants discussed issues such as reconciliation and reforming the justice system. Burundians from the diaspora, mostly exiles, asked to be allowed to visit Burundi to see the changes within the country, and it was agreed a small delegation should travel there.
Meanwhile a seminar on conflict-resolution techniques for Burundian politicians is also being held in Nairobi this week, the Agence burundaise de presse reported. The aim is to enable them to hold more meaningful discussions in Arusha, one regional analyst told IRIN. According to ABP, the 24 participants include politicians from the main UPRONA and FRODEBU parties as well as members of the government.
In a related development, first Vice-President Frederic Bamvuginyunvira left Bujumbura for Musoma in Tanzania today where he will meet peace process mediator, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, AFP reported.
UGANDA/SUDAN: Kampala reinforces northern border
Uganda has warned it has the capacity to prevent further Sudanese air raids. A statement yesterday from the presidency to UNDP's head of mission stressed that "Sudanese bomb attacks on Uganda ... will soon be put to an end", AFP reported.
A private radio station said the Ugandan army has deployed troops to the northern towns of Adjumani and Pakele, allegedly bombed by a Sudanese Antonov at the weekend. The Central Broadcasting Service, monitored by AP, quoted regional commander Colonel Julius Oketa as saying the army is "capable of destroying Sudanese planes". According to aid agencies, nine bombs were dropped in the air raid on the two towns which injured six people.
Meanwhile, although security has generally improved in northern Uganda in the past few months, analysts say the rebel Lord's Resistance Army remains a threat. "They still do one or two little attacks a week," an aid worker told IRIN. "Its very low intensity stuff, but people don't think it's going to go away."
SUDAN: International efforts to extend ceasefire
International efforts are underway to reschedule the postponed meeting of the IGAD technical committee on humanitarian affairs to discuss the extension and broadening of the Bahr al-Ghazal ceasefire. The meeting, cancelled on Monday, was to have brought together representatives of the Khartoum government and SPLA rebels. OLS coordinator Carl Tinstman told IRIN the three-month ceasefire, which expires on 15 October, "has been of tremendous help to us". "It has allowed us to operate without security concerns and greatly expand the numbers of people we can help."
In SPLA-held Ajiep, hunger-related deaths have fallen from 60 per 10,000 per day, to three per 10,000, OLS spokeswoman Gillian Wilcox said. There has been a comparable improvement in government-controlled Wau. In addition to the humanitarian effort, cattle are returning from their dry season pasture and wild foods have been replenished by the rains. In the longer term, however, a deterioration in conditions is expected during next year's "hunger gap". "It's only a temporary improvement, it's got to be kept in perspective," Wilcox said.
OLS is also concerned with the humanitarian conditions in western Upper Nile where faction fighting has limited access to those in need. "We know there is a desperate situation there," Tinstman said. In Bor town and the surrounding countryside hit by flooding, people are also at risk. Bad weather conditions have hampered relief efforts. Tinstman said OLS is also developing options to cope with the likely humanitarian consequences of the heavy fighting underway in Eastern Equatoria.
Nairobi, 6 October 1998, 15:00 gmt
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Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 17:58:01 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 517 for 6 Oct 1998.10.6 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.981006175630.25251Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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