IRIN Update 558 for 2 Dec 1998

IRIN Update 558 for 2 Dec 1998

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. 558 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 2 December 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: War fueling "mutual suspicions"

The chances that different ethnic groups will be able to coexist peacefully in Province Orientale are becoming increasingly slim on account of the four-month-old war and its impact, a local human rights group said. In a report received yesterday (Tuesday) by IRIN, the church Groupe Justice et Liberation in Kisangani warned that popular sentiment against Rwandan Tutsis, who are viewed as responsible for the current crisis, was becoming "dangerously contagious", with feelings of revenge and mutual suspicion helping to fuel a "spiral of violence." Those striving to promote tolerance were considered as "traitors", and people were taking up arms to gain power or as a means of subsistence, it said.

The church group said the current situation in the province has bred deep frustration and anger among the population, who feel the war was concocted outside the DRC against the will and aspirations of the Congolese people. The conflict is "a war of foreigners fought on Congolese territory," it said.

Kisangani lay-offs aggravating hardship

Meanwhile, several important employers in Kisangani have either closed down or severely reduced their number of staff, contributing to high unemployment and the poor purchasing power of the local population, the human rights group said. Some of the major businesses that have ceased functioning include the private forestry firms of La Forestiere and Amexbois, while the textile company Sotexki has reduced its staff from 800 to 292 people, the report said. The prolonged cut-off of supply lines into Kisangani has led to very high inflation rates and shortages of basic goods, such as soap and flour, the report said. Although some primary and secondary schools started re-opening on 19 October, many families cannot afford to pay the school fees for their children, it added.

Katanga fighting causes refugees influx to Tanzania

Fighting in southeastern Katanga province has led to a daily influx of hundreds of refugees into Tanzania's Rukwa region. According to a UNHCR statement yesterday, the refugees are fleeing clashes between government and rebel troops, looting, and the fear of being pressed into military service. In the second week of November alone, UNHCR recorded 2,500 new arrivals. Camps in the Rukwa region are already sheltering 15,000 of the refugees and UNHCR is considering opening a new site in the area.

Meanwhile, police in Rukwa have arrested 20 DRC government soldiers who were among refugees that fled fighting across the lake in Moba, Tanzanian state radio reported. The soldiers are being questioned by the authorities.

Ceasefire text to be hashed out by OAU

DRC Communications Minister Didier Mumengi said on Tuesday the text of the tentative ceasefire deal agreed in Paris is to be worked out at OAU headquarters in Addis Ababa. Regional leaders would discuss the draft in Lusaka next week before a formal signing at a special OAU meeting in Burkina Faso between 16-17 December. Mumengi said: "We will sign this ceasefire which will directly involve the withdrawal of foreign forces and the deployment of an international buffer force, but only at the border," Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, the "armed aggression" against the DRC is to be discussed by the plenary of the UN General Assembly, according to a UN press release. The motion, sponsored by the DRC, was challenged by Rwanda and Uganda on the grounds it would undermine the peace efforts of African regional leaders and the United Nations.

RWANDA: 76 genocide suspects freed

The Kigali authorities have released 76 genocide suspects from prison because of insufficient evidence. Those freed are among the first of 10,000 genocide suspects the government has decided to set free due to lack of evidence or incomplete files, the private Rwanda News Agency reported yesterday. However, if fresh evidence is produced against the released prisoners, they could be re-arrested. The release decision has angered genocide survivors. They are concerned the ex-detainees could kill potential witnesses. The suspects themselves fear revenge attacks.

African Rights details complicity of Protestant churches in genocide

African Rights has called on Protestant churches to "seek new ways" to contribute to the process of justice and reconciliation in Rwanda in the light of evidence that some church leaders were implicated in the 1994 genocide. In a report released today (Wednesday), the human rights group said that like the Catholic church - to which the majority of Rwandans belong - the Protestant hierarchy failed in its response to the genocide and its aftermath. The report, 'Rwanda: The Protestant Churches and the Genocide', argues that: "As long as the Churches continue to harbour men and women accused of heinous crimes, they cannot offer the kind of moral leadership" the country needs.

Meanwhile, the French parliamentary committee investigating France's role in the genocide has said it will publish its findings on the Internet by the middle of December. The committee was responding to allegations by human rights groups that it aimed to suppress damaging information about French conduct, PANA reported.

SUDAN: WFP barges depart for Juba along Nile

A WFP barge convoy left the port of Kosti on Monday to deliver emergency food aid to some 392,000 people along the Nile river corridor. In a statement received today by IRIN, WFP said the convoy is scheduled to distribute 2,500 mts of food to people in 33 locations in both rebel- and government-held areas before arriving in Juba in early January. This is the third WFP barge convoy to Juba in the last six months, the statement added.

WFP: Security initiative launched

In response to the increase in attacks against its staff members, WFP has launched a new security initiative for its employees. A new WFP task force is examining current security practices in field offices and a special training programme for staff will be implemented next year, the agency said in a statement. In 1998 alone, nine WFP staff members have been murdered.

Nairobi, 2 December 1998, 14:00 gmt


Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 17:23:47 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 558 for 2 Dec 1998.12.2

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

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