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IRIN Update No. 530 Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 23 October 1998)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Security Council urges end to fighting
The UN Security Council yesterday (Thursday) expressed concern over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in DRC and called for an end to the fighting. Specifically, the Council urged an immediate end to military offensives and hostilities and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC. The members of the Council urged all parties involved not to take action which would lead to escalation of the conflict, and expressed their support for efforts by the OAU, the SADC and other regional initiatives aimed at securing a ceasefire. All parties involved in the conflict were urged to attend the Lusaka meeting of foreign and defence ministers on Monday as this was a "major opportunity ... to help bring a destructive cycle of violence in the region to an end". Council members further stressed the need for ending human rights violations and the culture of impunity if a lasting solution to the regional crisis was to be found.
Mbuji Mayi reported quiet
Sources in contact with Mbuji Mayi told IRIN today (Friday) there was no fighting in the town. According to local residents, earlier this week there were an estimated 6,000 Congolese and foreign troops in the town, but the rebels had not yet arrived. DRC troop convoys were also reported leaving Mbuji Mayi for the towns of Kabinda and Lubao on the road to Kindu. The governor of Kasai Oriental has visited Kabinda and Lubao to reassure the population, and the entire Kasai region is reportedly quiet, the sources added.
UN mission assessing humanitarian needs in Kananga
Meanwhile in Kasai Occidental, a UN mission is currently assessing the situation in Kananga after dozens of cases of meningitis and subsequent deaths were reported. The Agence congolaise de presse on Wednesday said 54 people, from 111 infected by meningitis, had died recently in the town.
Zimbabwean troop reinforcements sent to DRC
Local reports in Zimbabwe say further troops have been sent to DRC in preparation for an announced offensive in the east, AFP reported. The 'Financial Gazette' quoted military sources as saying that up to 2,000 Zimbabwean troops with air support had been sent to DRC this week in addition to an estimated 3,000 already on the ground.
Kabila appoints aide-de-camp
The Agence congolaise de presse has clarified recent changes in the DRC military forces. It carried the text of a decree signed earlier this month by President Laurent-Desire Kabila, who is also the supreme commander of the armed forces, naming Commandant Eddy Kapend as his aide-de-camp and not chief-of-staff as some reports have mentioned.
Mandela meets Kagame
On the diplomatic front, South African President Nelson Mandela met Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame yesterday ahead of a meeting of regional ministers in Lusaka on Monday. South African spokesman Parks Mankahlana, quoted by the South African news agency SAPA, said the talks lasted an hour and a half, but he refused to give further details.
UGANDA: Rebels captured in Kindu fighting
Sixty-two Ugandan rebels were captured during the battle for Kindu in eastern DRC earlier this month, the state-owned Ugandan 'New Vision' reported today. It cited rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) who said the prisoners were members of the Uganda National Rescue Front-Part Two (UNRF II) and the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF). Uganda has demanded that they be handed over immediately amid reports that over 700 Ugandan rebels had been deployed in Kindu and Isiro to back Kabila's forces, the 'New Vision' said.
RWANDA: Akayesu on hunger strike
The former mayor of Taba, Jean-Paul Akayesu, recently convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), has gone on hunger strike, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported today. It cited a worker at the UN's detention facilities in Arusha who said Akayesu had been refusing food since yesterday. "He is taking no solid foods and no liquids, but he's smoking a lot," the prison worker said. Akayesu is reportedly protesting against being refused the right to have a lawyer of his choice for his appeal. The ex-mayor was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the 1994 genocide.
CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT: Growing number of child-soldiers
An estimated 300,000 children are now serving as combatants in the world's conflicts, including in Africa, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Olara Otunnu has said. The estimate has grown by about 50,000 over the past two to three years. In a report presented to the General Assembly this week, Otunnu said the development and proliferation of lightweight automatic weapons have made it possible for even very young children to bear and use arms. Because today's conflicts are primarily internal and fought by multiple, semi-autonomous armed groups, international rules of warfare are being ignored, permitting children to be used as pawns in theatres of conflict, he said.
Otunnu said an estimated two million children have been killed in situations of armed conflicts since 1987, while millions more have been seriously injured, permanently disabled or deprived of their physical, mental and emotional needs.
Nairobi, 23 October 1998, 13:40 gmt
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Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 16:43:01 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 530 for 23 Oct 1998.10.23 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.981023164016.2949Ffirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar, email@example.com