SOMALIA: IRIN News Briefs [19990529]

SOMALIA: IRIN News Briefs [19990529]

SOMALIA: IRIN News Briefs, 28 May

Saudis lift ban on Somali livestock exports

Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on the importation of livestock from Somalia after being assured of the absence of Rift Valley Fever, the disease which caused them to order a ban on Somali livestock 17 months ago, the Somali newspaper 'Qaran' reported on Wednesday. Somali livestock exporters welcomed the news with great relief. Regional analysts told IRIN that the rearing and exportation of livestock was a crucial economic activity for tens of thousands of Somali pastoralists and the ban - which also affected Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia - had hit Somalia hard.

UN "alarmed" at flouting of arms embargo

The UN Security Council on Thursday said it was alarmed at reports that foreign countries had been defying an arms embargo on Somalia and supplying militias with weapons. The Council did not name the countries it alleged were supplying arms but expressed its alarm "at the serious deterioration in the political, military and humanitarian situation in Somalia and concern at the reports of increasing external interference".

The Council also condemned attacks on civilians - particularly women, children and aid workers - and urged all parties "to guarantee the security and the freedom of movement of humanitarian personnel and to ensure unhindered access to those in need of assistance".

Mogadishu hospitals looted

The two main hospitals in south Mogadishu have been looted of equipment and supplies such that they can no longer function properly, their directors said on Thursday. The culprits are believed to be hospital staff loyal to militia leader Hussein Aideed who have taken the valuables to sell. Dr Ali Robleh Warfa, director of Martini Hospital, said looters had stripped the main operating theatre of Swiss equipment valued at US $60,000 or more, AP reported. Dr Mohamed Hussein Abdi, director of Digfer Hospital, the largest in Somalia, said looters made off with the German-donated X-ray equipment as well as films, chemicals and spare parts.

Humanitarian community calls for an end to banditry

Meanwhile, the Somali Aid Coordination Body (SACB), an umbrella group of donors, UN agencies and international NGOs, said in a statement on Thursday that "a disturbing increase in banditry and general instability" was making it increasingly difficult for aid agencies to get to those who need help. Humanitarian sources have cited serious incidents in Toghdeer region and in Beletwein, as well as continuing insecurity which has halted virtually all activities in Gedo and Merka, as serious concerns. The SACB statement reminded "the relevant international actors of their commitment to encourage a peace process that will lead to reconciliation in Somalia" and called for "their renewed support in this endeavour".

First trade fair opens in Somaliland

The first trade fair to be held in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, and since the outbreak of civil war in Somalia, opened on Friday in Hargeisa, with over 50 businesses, from small-scale entrepreneurs to large telecommunication companies and airlines, exhibiting over two days. "This is what we would like to see develop in Somaliland because every new local business can create desperately-needed jobs," said Abdullahi Diirie Jamah, secretary-general of the chamber of commerce, which organised the event with the support of the European Community and its implementing partner, the NGO Progressive Interventions.


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

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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 21 covering the period 22-28 May 1999

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Chad begins withdrawal of troops

Chadian troops that were backing the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila against rebels in DRC began withdrawing on Wednesday, following the Sirte peace agreement signed in Libya last month. Some 2,000 Chadian soldiers pulled out, crossing from Zongo to Bangui in the Central African Republic, from where the UN mission (MINURCA) ensured their safe passage to the Chadian border, media sources reported on Thursday. The Chadian troops had been deployed mostly in the northern Gbadolite region of DRC.

Rwanda, Uganda deny split

Uganda and Rwanda denied reports of a split over policy in the DRC. Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu said the two countries shared the same views and the "same "objectives and strategies" in fulfilling them. "During the negotiations in Lusaka, we always adopted the same position and our strategies remain convergent," he told Radio France Internationale. He reiterated Rwanda's position that clashes last weekend in Kisangani between supporters of ousted rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba and the new incumbent Emile Ilunga had no effect on relations between the two countries. "It is a mere incident that can happen anywhere," he said. Radio reports last Sunday said the clashes in DRC's second city had left at least four people dead with some reports saying as many as eight. The reports said the clashes were sparked by demonstrations organised by the provincial authorities in support of the new leadership of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) in Goma.

Uganda's Senior Presidential Adviser in charge of media and public relations John Nagenda reiterated Bizimungu's sentiments saying, "even in the best, loving families occasionally friction arises".

"We have to make sure places held in the DRC are not taken up by the Khartoum government, which is supporting northern Uganda rebels," he said. He added that Uganda was also supporting its "friend", Rwanda, which "is very much at risk at the hands of the Interahamwe militia supported by DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila". Reports of a split, he stressed, were "wishful thinking" by those who wanted to sow discord. Uganda and Rwanda had different programmes and ways of implementation, but this did not mean a split.

Bemba claims soldiers defecting

Meanwhile, Jean-Pierre Bemba, who leads a rival rebel group in DRC - the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) - has claimed 2,000 DRC soldiers have defected to his movement, along with a brigade of rebels from the mainstream Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD). He told AFP that "Kabila's deserters" were integrated into the MLC "after military training by the Ugandans and political education". However, leading RCD member Bizima Karaha on Thursday denied to the BBC that RCD fighters were moving over to the MLC.

Wamba to "unite" with Bemba

Meanwhile, some Wamba supporters in Goma are reported to have crossed into Uganda. The semi-official Ugandan 'New Vision' on Thursday quoted Wamba as saying he did not blame the Rwandan government but "elements of the Rwandan army" for backing the "coup" against him. Wamba said his group planned to hold talks with the MLC "very soon". "We are fighting the same enemy, we have the same cause. I must unite with Bemba," he said. Meanwhile, several hundred Goma residents marched through the town on Wednesday in support of the RCD's new leader, Emile Ilunga, Rwandan radio reported. It said an RCD official later addressed a rally, saying Wamba and his supporters had turned out to be "undemocratic".

Mayi-Mayi said advancing on Uvira

Sources in eastern DRC continue to send IRIN reports of ongoing violence in the Fizi and Uvira regions. Intense clashes between Mayi-Mayi fighters and the RCD have reportedly been underway since last Friday. Some sources claim Burundian troops entered the region to counter Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD) rebels fighting alongside the Mayi-Mayi. The Mayi-Mayi are said to be advancing towards Uvira, from Makobola some 20 km away. The sources further denied the presence of any DRC government troops in the area.

Mweso cholera outbreak shows signs of decline

Fifty-one new cases of cholera resulting in four deaths were reported in Mweso health zone, in North Kivu, over the last week compared to 89 new cases and eight deaths the previous week, a UN report received by IRIN stated. The UN has sent medicines and continued to fund the chlorination of water from Lake Kivu distributed to poor areas of Goma to help combat the outbreak, which it hoped was now in decline.

KENYA: COMESA summit ends with sharp differences over DRC conflict

Meanwhile, a summit by 12 heads of states from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) ended in Nairobi on Tuesday with sharp differences over the DRC. President Laurent-Desire Kabila left the summit early, in a move described by observers as "very hurried", reportedly to respond to Burundi's "aggression". The proceedings were broadcast by Kenyan television. DRC Foreign Minister Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi told the summit there was "no way COMESA can achieve regional integration if it and African nations continue to turn a blind eye to foreign invasion, such as the one in DRC". His remarks drew a sharp reaction from Uganda's Yoweri Museveni who said the summit was the wrong forum to discuss the issue and called on Kinshasa to get to the root causes of the war.

UGANDA: Officials locked in meeting over Libya's "surprise" arrival

Ugandan defence ministry officials and representatives of 42 Libyan soldiers who arrived unexpectedly in Kampala this week were locked in a meeting to try and sort out the issue, Presidential Press Secretary Hope Kivengere told IRIN on Friday. Libyan radio described the surprise arrival as a "prelude" to the arrival of an African peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However Kivengere said it was "not exactly the right time" for the Libyans to have come, adding there was probably a "misunderstanding" by Libya over the interpretation of the Sirte agreement signed last month between Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Laurent-Desire Kabila.

Rebels abduct 20 in northern Uganda

Rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) abducted 20 people in a village in Kitgum, northern Uganda, on Tuesday night, barely a day after President Yoweri Museveni's tour of the area. Media sources in the area told IRIN on Thursday army officers were in pursuit of the rebels who they said may have crossed over to neighbouring Sudan. "When the number is that big, if caught, they can use the abductees as human shields," the media source said. Analysts say the attack could be a way of the rebels letting the government know they "still exist" and have not "changed their stand". An LRA spokesman told the BBC the group believed Museveni was not genuine in his recent amnesty offer. "This is not surprising," presidential adviser John Nagenda told IRIN. "It just shows the kind of people the LRA are. They are killing, maiming and abducting their own people."

Some 120 rebels surrender in the north

About 120 rebels of the Uganda National Rescue Front II (UNRFII) have surrendered to the Ugandan army in Arua following a peace initiative by the government and the local council, the 'New Vision' reported. The group is currently undergoing a one month rehabilitation course, with the option of rejoining the army or remaining civilians. An official in charge of training the ex-rebels was quoted as saying they had been turning up at various army installations and local council units in the area over the last month, mostly from Sudan.

BURUNDI: Minister warns of retaliation if DRC attacks

Defence Minister Alfred Nkurunziza has warned that Burundi will fight back if the DRC carries out its threat to attack. In an interview with the BBC Kirundi service on Tuesday, he said Burundi had been "surprised" by DRC army chief Faustin Munene's threat this week. He denied Burundian helicopters had overflown the eastern DRC town of Baraka, as alleged by Munene. "Helicopters look alike when they are in the air," he said. "We have no helicopters to send there, and in fact we are short of them." He added that no-one could stop the DRC from attacking, but Burundi would retaliate "strongly".

PALIPEHUTU "opens new front"

Meanwhile, the rebel PALIPEHUTU group says its armed wing, Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), has opened another front in Kinyinya commune in the eastern Ruyigi prefecture. In a press statement, signed by vice-president Jean-Bosco Sindayigaya, PALIPEHUTU listed a series of clashes that had allegedly taken place with the army between 17 April and 21 May. It claimed large numbers of soldiers had died, with one dead from its own side.

Burundi negotiators "moving towards peace"

The four committees which met in Arusha as part of the Burundi peace process from 11-22 May achieved "appreciable" progress, according to the Nyerere Foundation which is facilitating the talks. In a press release received by IRIN, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere urged delegates "to continue in the same spirit" during the next session, due in July. "The talks are progressing in the right direction. Committees were able to discuss and finish certain agendas and pick up new ones," Nyerere Foundation spokesman Hashim Mbita told IRIN on Thursday.

Meanwhile, donors have contributed more than US $6 million towards the facilitation of the Burundi peace talks, a press release from the Nyerere Foundation said. About 21 countries and aid agencies have been contributing since 1996.

RWANDA: Genocide suspect appeals for refugee status in Tanzania

Genocide suspect, Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, who is facing extradition from Tanzania to Rwanda, has appealed for refugee status in Tanzania. According to the Tanzanian 'Daily Mail' on Thursday, the appeal was filed by his lawyer on Wednesday. A court in Dar es Salaam is due to hear the extradition case on 15 June. Ntuyahaga is wanted in connection with the murder of former Rwandan premier Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers during the 1994 genocide.

UN names investigators into its actions during genocide

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday announced the names of the two people to join panel chairman, former Swedish prime minister Ingvar Carlsson, in an investigation into UN actions in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. The two are former South Korean foreign minister Han Sung-Joo and Nigerian General Rufus Kupolati, who served three years as head of the UN peacekeeping mission based in Jerusalem. The team, which will begin work immediately, is expected to "establish facts and to draw conclusions as to the organisation's response to the tragedy" and present its report to the Secretary-General within six months, according to a UN statement received by IRIN.

Human rights commissioners elected

The seven members of the National Human Rights Commission were elected by the National Assembly on Monday evening, five months after adopting the law which established it, the Rwanda News Agency reported on Tuesday. The chairman of the commission is Gasana Ndoba and the six other members are: Theodore Sumburudari, Deogratias Kayumba, Celina Nyirahabimana, Denis Uwimana, Anne-Marie Kanyange and Tom Ndahiro.

Justice Minister slams Ruzindana sentence

Rwandan Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo has protested against the sentence handed down to genocide suspect Obed Ruzindana by the

International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), in Arusha, last Friday. While hailing the life imprisonment sentence against the co-accused former governor of Kibuye, Clement Kayishema, Mucyo complained that the 25 years' jail sentence for Ruzindana was too lenient, Hirondelle news agency reported. Mucyo noted that the Kibuye businessman "took part in preparing the genocide at Bisesero and incited many others to carry it out".

The ICTR says it handed down a lesser sentence to Ruzindanda, aged 37, "because of his relatively young age [32 in 1994] and the possibility of rehabilitation". However Mucyo said the Tribunal's decision was "incomprehensible".

Zambia agrees in principle to provide prison facilities

An agreement in principle has been reached with Zambia to provide prison facilities for enforcing the ICTR's sentences, Tribunal spokesman Kingsley Moghalu said. The agreement was expected to be formalised soon, and negotiations on the same issue were at an "advanced stage" with Benin and Madagascar. Moghalu recalled that an accord had already been signed with the government of Mali.

Army worm outbreak reported in northwest

Rwandan radio on Tuesday reported that Gisenyi Prefecture in northwestern Rwanda has recently seen five communes attacked by army worms: Nyamyumba, Rubavu, Kibilira, Satinskyi and Kayove. About 79 hectares of farmland, planted mainly with sorghum gardens, have been destroyed. The worms were first sighted in Gisenyi on 14 May, and farmers have called on the government to intervene rapidly.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Ninjas warn of aid obstruction

Ninja militiamen, who support ousted prime minister Bernard Kolelas, have warned they will obstruct any humanitarian aid to the south of the country unless certain conditions are met. In a statement received by IRIN, the Force d'autodefense Ninja (FAN) said it had learnt of pledged international assistance for displaced people in the Pool and Niari regions, which would be escorted by government troops. FAN said that while it welcomed the aid, it could not accept the escort of the "belligerent forces". Furthermore, any assistance to the south which is under the control of FAN and the Forces congolaises de liberation (FCL) must first be negotiated with Kolelas and other exiled leaders, the statement said. "All moves that do not conform to these requirements will run into the military obstruction of the FAN and the FCL".

Nairobi, 28 May 1999


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: . Mailing list: irin-cea-weekly]

Item: irin-english-911

[This item is delivered in the "irin-english" service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information or free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or fax: +254 2 622129 or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

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

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

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