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IRIN Update No. 521 Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 12 October 1998)
BURUNDI: Arusha peace talks deferred to Tuesday
The third round of Arusha peace talks, due to resume today (Monday), has been put back until tomorrow, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Delegates said the aim was to hold initial consultations before the talks began. Tomorrow's plenary session is expected to adopt an agenda for the negotiations which will include a debate on the problems of democracy and good governance in Burundi. Hirondelle said the talks were expected to last between two and three weeks. The Agence burundaise de presse yesterday (Sunday) quoted Information Minister Luc Rukingama who confirmed the government's participation in the talks.
The minister also denied reports of Burundi's involvement in the crisis in Democratic Republic of Congo. Burundi's role was to "ensure that security along the common border is not jeopardised," he said.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN mission to east detailed
The UN assessment mission to rebel-held areas of eastern DRC on 7-8 October estimated that there were between 8,000 and 10,000 displaced Banyamulenge in Kalemie and Uvira or on the way to those two locations, the mission leader, OCHA's Kevin Kennedy, told IRIN today. The displaced said they had fled the Vyura area of Katanga Province in August following attacks on their villages. About 250 had been killed in Vyura or on the way towards Kalemie, the mission was informed. The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) said they wished to relocate the displaced to an area some 35 km north of Uvira, for resettlement.
The UN team found that while there was currently no severe humanitarian crisis, the longer-term well-being of the displaced and other vulnerable groups in the area could be in jeopardy. The population has limited access to adequate food supplies and health care facilities, and the water and sanitation situation in the displaced persons' camps was reported to be poor. Based on the findings of the mission and on-going discussions with all concerned parties, the UN is currently examining what kind of assistance could be provided to assist the displaced and other vulnerable groups in the area. Other issues raised with rebel representatives by the UN team during the mission included human rights concerns and the return of looted humanitarian property, Kennedy said.
Meanwhile, DRC Justice Minister Mwenze Kongolo on Saturday accused Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi of moving thousands of Banyamulenge and other ethnic Tutsis to Uvira to create a "Tutsiland." Kongolo was speaking at a press conference in Kinshasa, broadcast on Congolese state television, monitored by the BBC.
Rebel soldiers poaching in Garamba park
Informed sources in the region told IRIN that rebel soldiers, allegedly including Ugandans, Rwandans and the SPLA, are moving into the Garamba national park on the border with Sudan, with the aim of poaching rhino horn and ivory. According to the sources, the last northern white rhinos left in the wild are at threat, having survived the 1996 rebellion with very little loss due to efforts by the national wildlife service, the Institut congolais pour la conservation de la nature. The rebel soldiers are said to be coercing the local population not to inform their superiors. Wildlife authorities have appealed to all sides in the conflict to respect the irreplaceable heritage of the national parks and reserves.
Looting reported in Dungu
Meanwhile reliable sources in contact with Dungu told IRIN there were clashes between Mayi-Mayi fighters and rebel soldiers advancing on the town late last month. A vast part of the population had already fled the town after the retreat of Congolese government soldiers and looting by the Mayi-Mayi. On 27 September, SPLA fighters arrived in Dungu, saying they had not come to help President Laurent-Desire Kabila nor the rebels but to "chase the (Sudanese) refugees back into Sudan and recruit the young men". According to the sources, the SPLA began looting and stealing which has increased tension between the Congolese and the Sudanese in the area.
Aircraft shot down over Kindu
A Congo Airlines aircraft with some 40 people on board was shot down by rebels over Kindu airport on Saturday morning, news agencies reported. The rebels told Reuters that the Boeing 727 aircraft was carrying government soldiers and military equipment and that they shot it as it was about to land at Kindu, which is the government's forward military headquarters in eastern DRC. The government, however, said the plane was carrying civilians, including about 20 women and children, and that it was shot about five minutes after taking off from Kindu for Kinshasa, Reuters said. There was no independent confirmation of either claim. Fighting between the rebels and government forces started around Kindu on 5 October.
UGANDA: ADF camps destroyed, army says
The Ugandan army says it has destroyed 18 camps belonging to the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Rwenzori mountains and rescued 222 civilians, the state-owned 'Sunday Vision' reported yesterday. It cited Second Division Commander Colonel Nakibus Lakara who said 22 of the civilians were students of Kichwamba technical college who were abducted by the ADF three months ago. He named the major ADF camps, destroyed by the army, as Kamango, Katonga, Kamengo, Kamanyu, Buliira, Kasenga and Kidedeya, adding that a number of rebels were killed while others surrendered.
SUDAN: Flood emergency still critical
Although flooding has receded in northeast Sudan, the flood emergency has now entered a "critical public health phase" as large areas remain under stagnant water, according to the latest OCHA Sudan situation report. There is concern that the emergency situation could worsen in the coming months due to outbreaks of water-borne diseases, lack of shelter and poor food security conditions, the report said. Tens of thousands of people were made homeless by the floods in seven states. The water and sanitation situation is reported to be deteriorating, and increases in malaria, diarrhoea and other diseases have already been reported in some areas. Humanitarian interventions are being undertaken by UN, NGO and government agencies, but these are not addressing all of the flood-related needs, the report added.
SPLA withdraw from Liria
The SPLA confirmed on Friday that its troops had withdrawn from the town of Liria in eastern Equatoria, AFP reported. A communique issued in Nairobi said the SPLA had withdrawn "for tactical reasons" but it gave no further details, AFP said. On Friday, Sudanese state radio in Khartoum said that government forces have regained control of the road between Juba and Torit in eastern Equatoria.
Nairobi, 12 October 1998, 14:30 gmt
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Date: Mon, 12 Oct 1998 17:30:01 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 521 for 12 Oct 1998.10.12 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.981012171726.796Cfirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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