IRIN Update 564 for 10 Dec 1998

IRIN Update 564 for 10 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. 564 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 10 December 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Burundian soldiers reportedly killed near Moba

The bodies of Burundian army soldiers killed in recent fighting in Katanga province were "clandestinely" transported back to Burundi via Uvira in South Kivu on Sunday, the Missionary Service News Agency (MISNA) said this week. It said a memorial service had been scheduled in Uvira for 89 Burundian soldiers who died in recent fighting against government forces near Moba. MISNA said some 3,000 Burundian troops were backing rebel forces in DRC. Burundi has consistently denied any military involvement in the conflict.

Zimbabwean forces sink rebel boats

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean planes or helicopters sank two rebel boats on Lake Tanganyika on Monday some 40 km north of Moba, AFP reported yesterday (Wednesday). Citing independent sources in Kinshasa, AFP said the boats were carrying an unspecified number of rebel reinforcements. The sources reported "atrocious fighting" around Moba, AFP added.

Nyunzu residents hiding in forests

Most of the 40,000 residents of Nyunzu town in Katanga fled fighting last month, and few people have returned since its capture by rebel forces, IPS said yesterday. An IPS journalist in Nyunzu said most residents were still hiding in nearby forests, where they face a serious lack of food, medicines and other basic supplies. Frequent aerial bombing by Zimbabwean aircraft was causing fear among the population, it said. "People are trying to come back to the town to get some salt and soap but by 11:00 a.m., they rush

back to their hideouts," IPS quoted one resident as saying.

Kabila lambasts Pretoria

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila has accused the South African government of being "puppets of the aggressors" in his country's civil war. Speaking in an interview on Wednesday night with SABC television, Kabila said he was surprised at Pretoria's attitude: "It is common knowledge that Rwandan and Ugandan forces are deployed in our country - so why are we still talking about rebels instead of invaders?"

Kabila said he was surprised that South Africa had not asked the aggressors to leave the country immediately. "This double-standard is unpleasant for all the people of Congo." He said there would be no ceasefire in his country until Rwandan and Ugandan troops withdrew.

South African Foreign Ministry spokesman Marco Boni said South Africa's position remained unchanged since the signing of the Pretoria declaration in August. "It is critical that a ceasefire be implemented without delay and that it should be followed by the withdrawal of all foreign troops. This is in the interests not only of the Congolese but of the entire region," he told IRIN.

Salim seeks more decisive action

Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Salim Ahmed Salim said on Wednesday that the crisis in DRC would be the main focus of next week's OAU meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Speaking at a news conference in Pretoria after meeting South African officials, Salim ruled out the likelihood of a DRC peace summit in Lusaka, Zambia, until "all outstanding issues" were resolved. These included the rebels' position on a ceasefire, and the security concerns of the governments of the DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Angola.

"Increasingly, all the parties to this conflict do understand that there cannot be a military solution," he said. Although the OAU should act more decisively in such crises, he said this depended on cooperation among member nations.

Kabila said in a press conference in Kinshasa on Tuesday that at the Ouagadougou summit next Thursday his country would negotiate with "the invaders to leave our country". Kabila has ruled out direct talks with the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), which is led by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba. "These are not political opponents, they have been created by the invaders," Kabila said.

Kabila launches pre-summit drive for support

Kabila has launched a diplomatic drive to gain support ahead of the OAU meeting. Yesterday, he held talks with Zambian President Frederick Chiluba and then arrived in Nairobi and met Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. Chiluba has been mandated by SADC states to mediate in the DRC conflict which has drawn in troops from seven other African states. Last month, Moi called for the immediate withdrawal of "uninvited foreign troops" from former Zaire. No details of the talks were made available.

Namibia appeals for peace

Namibian Prime Minister Hage Geingob, whose country has sent troops to support Kabila, appealed on Wednesday for a peaceful solution to the conflict. "We have meagre resources... We support efforts for peace," he said at a press conference at Dar es Salaam airport. The Namibian defence ministry confirmed to IRIN on Wednesday that three soldiers had so far lost their lives since the start of the intervention.

A defence ministry spokesman said one of the soldiers had died of malaria "early on in the campaign" and that two others had died late last week in an attack on the eastern rebel-held town of Moba. The spokesman gave no further details and said he could not disclose the number of troops Namibia had sent.

EU threatens to reduce aid to combattants

The European Union (EU) threatened yesterday to decrease aid to countries involved in the DRC conflict if a political settlement was not reached. In a statement received today (Thursday) by IRIN and issued at a donors' meeting on Uganda, the EU stressed the need for dialogue and called for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country. It added that it recognised Uganda's "legitimate security concerns" but found it "doubtful" that the "military presence and activity up to 700 km from the Ugandan border solely serves that purpose."

BURUNDI-TANZANIA: Refugees fined

A total of 176 Burundian refugees have been ordered by the Tanzanian authorities to pay a fine of 50,000 shillings (US $73) each or to serve six months imprisonment for travelling out of their camp without authorisation, press reports said today. Fifty others were sentenced to 20 strokes of the cane for similar charges. The 226 refugees were arrested in a police swoop on 30 November while travelling by truck from the Lukole camp in Ngara region, where they are registered, to another Burundian refugee camp in the Kigoma region. Some 265,000 Burundian refugees were registered in Tanzania as of 30 October, including around 156,000 in Kigoma and 108,000 in Ngara, according to OCHA's latest report on affected populations in the Great Lakes region.

TANZANIA: ACT launches US $528,000 appeal

The ACT network of churches on Monday launched a US $527,700 combined appeal to provide emergency relief to new Rwandan refugees entering the Ngara refugee camps; to protect the natural resources of the area; and to extend an emergency relief project in Kibondo district to encompass new refugees fleeing unrest in Burundi. According to a statement received by IRIN, ACT's implementing partners are the Christian Council of Tanzania and the Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service.

Cholera outbreak in Kigoma

A total of 625 cases of cholera have been recorded in Kigoma between 1 October and 4 December and some 22 deaths have been attributed to the disease, a WHO official told IRIN yesterday. The outbreak has mainly affected people in Kigoma's local communities, with only 32 cases reported among the refugee populations, WHO said. Meanwhile, a WHO Great Lakes monthly report received by IRIN yesterday called for better cross-border cholera surveillance and control efforts in view of the spread of the disease in almost all countries of the region.

HUMAN RIGHTS: 50th anniversary of universal declaration marked

The human rights organisation Amnesty International has presented UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan more than 10 million individual pledges of support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in connection with today's 50th anniversary of its signing.

Signatories to the pledge include Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians including Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, French President Jacques Chirac, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Religious leaders, actors and singers have also pledged their support alongside millions of ordinary people.

In a statement to the General Assembly commemoration marking the occasion, Annan said that without human rights "no peace or prosperity can endure". Annan said it was a day to recall "not only the rights attained over 50 years, but also the rights denied; to pursue the achievement of justice by all and for all; and to pursue the violators of human rights with greater persistence than ever. It is the day to renew our commitment to globalizing justice in the age of globalization."

AFRICA: African countries among world's most undernourished, FAO says

A report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says 800 million people in developing countries are chronically undernourished and two billion more suffer from deficiencies of vital vitamih President Jacques Chirac, Ugandan President Yoweri Museve world, but it is not equally distributed and many people do not have the means to buy it," said Hartwig de Haen, FAO Assistant Director-General.

Even when food supplies were adequate at national level, access to food was often a serious problem, he added. The report contains the most recent data on nutrition and malnutrition in 177 countries and shows that the lowest food availability affects countries such as Mozambique, Burundi, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia. The FAO says that to ensure nutritional well-being, every individual must have access at all times to sufficient supplies of a variety of safe, good-quality foods.

The full report is available on FAO's website

Nairobi, 10 December 1998 15:00 GMT


Date: Thu, 10 Dec 1998 17:47:28 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 564 for 10 Dec 1998.12.10

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,