IRIN Update 567 for 15 Dec 1998.12.15

IRIN Update 567 for 15 Dec 1998.12.15

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. 567 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 15 December 1998)

BURUNDI: 30 killed in attack on displaced camp

Thirty people were killed and 20 others wounded yesterday (Monday) when a camp for displaced people came under attack in southwest Burundi. According to Burundi radio, the Muyange camp in Burambi commune had been sheltering some 100 people who recently "abandoned the rebellion".

Meanwhile, Burundi peace mediator Julius Nyerere yesterday condemned ceasefire violations by the various sides in the conflict, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Nyerere, who was speaking as three commissions began their work in Arusha as part of the peace process, described the current stage as important for promoting peace in Burundi. However, he regretted that hostilities were still continuing alongside attempts to find peace.

UGANDA: Salim Saleh plans export business to Burundi

Major General Salim Saleh, the disgraced brother of President Yoweri Museveni, is to sign a multimillion dollar beef export deal to Burundi, the semi-official 'New Vision' reported yesterday. The newspaper quoted Saleh as saying he would travel soon to sanctions-hit Burundi to negotiate the final terms of the US $10 million contract. Uganda has been a key supporter of the regional economic embargo against the Burundi government.

Over 80 children rescued from LRA captivity

Over 80 children freed from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) by government forces were handed over to rehabilitation agencies in Gulu on Friday. World Vision country director in Kampala Kofi Hagan told IRIN today (Tuesday) that his organisation's counselling centre had received 54 of the children. They are to receive psychological and nutritional help before being returned to their communities. "Often the children are in very poor shape. They are very malnourished, have rashes all over them, are poorly dressed and some have bullet wounds," Hagan said. Many of the girl captives suffer from sexually transmitted diseases. Among the 80 children rescued by the army last week, 17 were taken to hospital for treatment. The abducted children were among an estimated group of 300 LRA rebels that recently crossed into Uganda from Sudan.

RWANDA: Agathe Habyarimana ready to appear before ICTR

The wife of slain Rwandan leader Juvenal Habyarimana has expressed her willingness to appear before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha to reply to allegations she organised death squads during the 1994 genocide. In her first interview for five years, Agathe Habyarimana told the French daily 'Liberation' the accusations were "outrageous". She said those who killed her husband when his plane was shot down on 6 April 1994 "want to tarnish me or drive me mad". It was only after her family was evacuated to Paris that she learnt what was happening in Rwanda. She denied that her family had effectively controlled Rwanda during the Habyarimana era and said her conscience was clear. She was therefore ready to answer any questions at the ICTR.

French commission releases genocide enquiry report

A report by a French parliamentary commission has cleared France of direct involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, AFP said today. The report rejects charges implicating France in the genocide but it also "points to errors and shortcomings of French authorities in Rwanda without forgetting the attitude of the international community," including Belgium and the United States, commission head Paul Quiles told AFP. The 1,200-page report, due to be made public today, is the result of the commission's nine-month enquiry into France's role in events leading up to the genocide.

Agencies target displaced and vulnerable

World Vision's "major interventions" for Ruhengeri's displaced population will stress the temporary nature of displaced camps. In a statement received by IRIN today, World Vision said its planned programmes - focusing on therapeutic nutrition, health and shelter assistance - will "do nothing that tends to make the camps permanent." The NGO has begun distributing relief items in four Ruhengeri camps.

Meanwhile, FAO said it has started a project that will supply some 9,000 goats and sheep to households in the Byumba, Gikongoro and Umutara prefectures. The IFAD-funded project aims to increase the incomes of vulnerable families, FAO said in a statement received by IRIN.

Over 30,000 DRC refugees in Rwanda

Rwanda is currently hosting 32,108 refugees in three camps and one transit centre, of which 31,651 are Congolese and 457 are Burundian, according to the OCHA-Rwanda report for November. During the month, 19 Congolese refugees arrived from South Kivu while 124 Rwandan refugees repatriated to Rwanda from neighbouring countries, the report said. A total of 10,534 Rwandan refugees have returned to their home country so far this year, it added.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: US predicts long-term instability

The Clinton administration has concluded there is little the US can do to stop the DRC war and that the country will remain a source of instability long after the fighting ends, the 'Washington Post' wrote on Saturday. It cited officials as saying the government was therefore looking beyond a ceasefire to a possible new regional cooperation agreement involving peacekeeping and border security, support for democratic political forces within DRC and economic aid to reconstruct the country. The DRC was "ungoverned and ungovernable," the newspaper quoted a senior US official as saying. "It has become a free-trade zone for the region's garbage."

Annan cautiously optimistic over ceasefire deal

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan meanwhile told a press conference in New York yesterday he believed a diplomatic solution to the Congo conflict was possible at the OAU summit later this week. Revealing that he had been in contact with the presidents of South Africa and Zambia, Annan said: "We can never be 100 percent sure, but I believe things are going in the right direction."

Rebels claim victory in fierce fighting for Kabalo

DRC rebels claim to have killed two "senior" Zimbabwean army officers, shot down two helicopter gunships and knocked out several tanks in fierce fighting for Kabalo on Sunday. The private Rwanda News Agency reported on Monday the Zimbabwean dead included the operations commander and squadron commander. A Zimbabwean helicopter gunner was reportedly captured. The news agency added that rebel sources in Goma claimed the officer commanding government forces was also killed when the allied attack was repulsed. An official Zimbabwean source admitted to IRIN there had been "several casualties" and one helicopter downed.

Kabila arrives in Khartoum

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila stopped over in Khartoum yesterday on his way home from a three-day visit to Egypt. He was met at the airport by President Omar al-Bashir. The two men discussed the Congo crisis, Sudanese television, monitored by the BBC, reported.

ERITREA: Sudan accused of shelling border towns

Eritrea has accused Sudan of shelling the border towns of Talata Asher, Arbaete Asher and Alighider 10 days ago. In a letter to the Security Council, dated 10 December, Eritrea's UN envoy Haile Menkerios said Sudan used 122 mm field guns and BM-21 multiple rocket launchers in the attack. "Such acts are expressions of the vile intent of the terrorist regime in the Sudan to destabilise not only Eritrea but also the entire region," the letter said.

In an interview with the SUNA and PANA news agencies during a visit to Sudan, Eritrean Foreign Minister Haile Woldetensae was reported as saying his country was ready to resolve its differences with Khartoum.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Legislative voting concludes

Preliminary results of the second round of legislative elections indicate that no party will get an absolute majority in the parliament, but official results are expected within 15 days, RFI said yesterday. Sunday's voting took place without major incident, it added. Voters in the two rounds cast ballots to select 109 deputies who will make up the National Assembly. The first round was on 22 November. The UN's Mission des Nations Unies en Republique Centrafricaine (MINURCA) helped organise and supervise the elections.

Nairobi, 15 December 1998, 14:30 gmt


Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1998 17:37:57 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> IRIN Update 567 for 15 Dec 1998.12.15

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,