IRIN Update 574 for 24 Dec 1998.12.24

IRIN Update 574 for 24 Dec 1998.12.24

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. 574 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 24 December 1998)

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Agencies seek early return of displaced

Some neighbourhoods of southern Brazzaville were completely looted and many houses were destroyed during the recent unrest in the capital, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Dominique AitOuyahia McAdams told IRIN yesterday (Wednesday). Some of the northern Brazzaville sites sheltering the displaced were overcrowded and one church, St-Esprit, was now hosting more than 9,000 people, she said. ICRC is providing water and sanitation assistance at five sites, the IFRC and Congolese Red Cross are assessing needs and UN agencies' relief stocks will be made available for the affected populations, McAdams said. Humanitarian agencies are hoping the government will take the necessary measures to enable people to return to their homes as soon as possible, McAdams added. The security situation in the city remained tenuous yesterday and military operations were continuing beyond the Djoue bridge, humanitarian sources said.

Meanwhile, McAdams said she was "extremely worried" over the fate of at least 29 Congolese staff members and consultants of UN agencies who remain unaccounted for since the outbreak of fighting in Brazzaville last week.

Combatants abusing unarmed civilians

Amnesty International said yesterday that government forces and militia fighters in and around Brazzaville were committing atrocities, including rape and arbitrary killing, against unarmed civilian populations. In a statement received today (Thursday) by IRIN, Amnesty also condemned the "indiscriminate shelling of civilian targets" perpetrated by government forces and armed opposition groups. It said Cobra militia supporting President Denis Sassou Nguesso and the Ninja allied to former prime minister Bernard Kolelas were deliberately killing civilians suspected of supporting the opposing side. The displaced, who had no protection from further attacks by combatants, were also at risk of starvation and disease, it said. The abuses are reminiscent of those carried out by combatants during the 1997 civil war that brought Sassou back to power, the statement added.

BURUNDI: New public prosecutor appointed

Burundi has appointed a new public prosecutor from the mainly-Hutu FRODEBU party, Burundian media sources told IRIN today. He was named as Gerard Ngendabanka, a former justice minister. Burundian delegates attending the Nairobi conference organised by the Compagnie des apotres de la paix (CAP) told IRIN Ngendabanka was a "consensus" appointment between FRODEBU and President Pierre Buyoya within the framework of the new political partnership. Joseph Nzeyimana, leader of the pro-Tutsi RADDES party, said the appointment of a Hutu public prosecutor came within the context of reforming the justice system. Observers said the appointment has been generally well-received in the country, although Tutsis were adopting a "wait-and-see" approach. A Burundian exile attending the CAP meeting described Ngendabanka's appointment as a "step in the right direction" but added it should have been made by a democratically-elected government rather than as a result of the political partnership.

RWANDA: Government not backing UNITA

Rwanda has denied allegations it has been backing the Angolan rebel movement, UNITA, Rwandan radio reported. In a statement issued yesterday, the foreign ministry said Rwanda was not involved with either side in the Angolan conflict. The statement added that UNITA's sole objective was "to make the Angolan people suffer indefinitely". "Rwanda is seriously concerned about the fratricidal conflict in Angola, and strongly condemns the violation of the Lusaka peace accord by (Jonas) Savimbi and his UNITA," the statement said.

UGANDA: Army commander okays tank purchase

Uganda's armed forces commander Major-General Jeje Odongo has said that a fleet of controversial second-hand tanks recently imported from the Ukraine is operational, the semi-official 'New Vision' reported today. However, the newspaper quoted a defence ministry source as saying there is still no official report on the mechanical condition of the 62 tanks. The combat worthiness of the tanks and the price paid for them has been a subject of controversy in Uganda.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Lusaka summit postponed

The planned Lusaka summit to resolve the DRC conflict has been postponed until January. A Zambian foreign affairs spokesman gave no explanation for the decision, Reuters reported today. The meeting was scheduled to have taken place on Monday.

SUDAN: SPLA claims capture of key Nuba mountain town

Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels said they recaptured the key town of Koya and an airstrip in the Nuba mountains today after two days of fierce fighting. Reuters quoted Wallid Hamid, a representative of the rebel governor of Southern Kordofan, as saying in Nairobi that "a lot of armaments" were seized when the town fell.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Addis denies receiving arms from Djibouti, Sudan

Ethiopia has denied Eritrean allegations that it is receiving arms through neighbouring Djibouti and Sudan, a Reuters dispatch said today. Addis Ababa dismissed the claims as "baseless".

Nairobi, 24 December 1998, 12:45 gmt


Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 16:01:42 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 574 for 24 Dec 1998.12.24

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

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