IRIN Update 674 for 19 May [19990519]

IRIN Update 674 for 19 May [19990519]

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

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IRIN Update No. 674 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 19 May 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Amnesty concerned over DRC executions

The human rights organisation Amnesty International has expressed concern over the "relentless brutalisation" of Congolese society by the DRC authorities. At least 46 people have been executed since April 1999, an Amnesty statement said on Wednesday. It said the majority of executions were ordered by a military court after "unfair trials." Amnesty expressed concern that more executions may take place in the near future. "The people of the DRC are being subjected to extreme brutality and disregard for human life," the organisations said.

In the latest executions, state television last week reported that 15 "criminals", found guilty of murder, were executed in Kinshasa last Thursday.

RWANDA: Troops to stay in DRC for "as long as it takes"

Rwandan army chief of staff Kayumba Nyamwansa has reiterated that Rwandan troops will stay in DRC "as long as it takes" to oust Interahamwe rebels from their bases in that country. In an interview with AFP, he admitted there had been several hundred casualties among Rwandan soldiers since the beginning of the conflict in August. "Our stay in DRC depends on the political atmosphere," he said. He would not divulge the number of Rwandans fighting in DRC, but noted there were enough to counter any offensive by the allied forces of DRC, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia.

EU releases US $50 million to Rwanda

The European Union (EU) has finally released a US $50 million grant which it held back six months ago because of Rwandan government's involvement in the DRC, the Rwanda News Agency reported. The amount will be used to support economic reforms. Although the EU withheld this particular package, it had continued its support for sectors such as justice, health, education and rehabilitating the infrastructure. Finance Minister Donald Kaberuka stressed the money was needed to help security return to the country.

BURUNDI: Japan pledges US $1m for refugee and IDP resettlement

The government of Japan on Tuesday pledged US $1m in emergency assistance to the Burundi UN Trust Fund to assist the resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), Adama Toe, Deputy Resident Representative of the UNDP in Burundi, told IRIN on Wednesday. Japan said the grant was intended to contribute to the realisation of political stability in Burundi through improving social and economic rehabilitation.

The Japanese assistance brings to US $7m, of US $12m targeted, the money pledged for the UNDP's Rural Community Assistance Umbrella Programme, Toe said. UNDP has begun recruiting staff and devising operational guidelines for that programme which it intends to start next month. The 'Umbrella' programme is designed to assist the resettlement and social integration of returning refugees and IDPs, and the rehabilitation of communities which accept them.

Britain offers financial support to Arusha peace talks

The British government has donated 150,000 pounds towards the Arusha peace talks through the Nyerere Foundation, which is mediating the process. A spokeswoman for the British Department for International Development (DFID) said the money, channelled through the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam, would go towards meetings and conferences, technical operations and transport expenses. Britain's rationale was that "the Arusha talks, though slow and complex, offer the best opportunity to set Burundi on the path to peace", she told IRIN.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Returnees from Pool severely malnourished

The health and nutritional situation of people arriving in Brazzaville from the Pool region is "catastrophic," MSF-France's head of office, Thierry Allafort Duverger, told IRIN on Wednesday. He said about 600 severely malnourished children under five years of age had so far received emergency help at an MSF therapeutic feeding centre opened on 6 May in southern Brazzaville's Makelekele hospital. About 75 percent were suffering from kwashiorkor, he said. A screening effort would undoubtedly identify many more children in urgent need of nutritional assistance in the city, Duverger said, adding that many adults were also malnourished.

Meanwhile, an estimated 50,000 of the 200,000 residents of southern Brazzaville's Bacongo and Makelekele districts - all displaced by conflict in December - have recently returned to their homes, some from the Pool region and others from northern Brazzaville, humanitarian sources told IRIN. An estimated 8,000 people remain in displaced centres in northern Brazzaville. Many of the residents displaced by fresh clashes in the Mukundu area of northern Brazzaville last week have since returned to their homes, the sources added.

An aid appeal launched by the UN for ROC, announced recently by Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier, will include support for a volunteer programme to enrol youth militia in employment schemes after they have returned their arms under a government-funded initiative to buy back arms. The appeal is also intended to support the monitoring of events such as the public destruction of weapons.

GREAT LAKES: Over 300,000 new displaced reported

The number of people reported affected by crises in the Great Lakes region has increased by some 390,000 since mid-February, according to the latest data compiled by the Office of the UN Regional Humanitarian Advisor. The sharpest increase was in the number of internally-displaced persons (IDPs), with over 308,000 new IDPs reported during the period. This increase was largely due to a series of assessment missions carried out in the Republic of Congo and in DRC, which identified new pockets of displaced persons, the report said. There were now some 301,800 IDPs in the Republic of Congo, including some 130,000 "missing" IDPs in the Pool region. In DRC, most of the estimated 484,000 IDPs were in forested areas from where there was little concrete information on the actual magnitude of humanitarian problems, it added.

The total number of affected people in the region was now estimated at 4.12 million, according to the report, which is dated 6 May. This figure includes a total of 2.38 million displaced persons, 902,047 refugees, 828,735 vulnerable people and 12,193 unaccompanied children.

Nairobi, 19 May 1999, 14:10 gmt


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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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