IRIN Update 582 for 7 Jan 1999

IRIN Update 582 for 7 Jan 1999

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. 582 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 7 January 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: ICRC investigating alleged massacre

ICRC, investigating the reported massacre in south Kivu of up to 500 civilians by Congolese rebels over the New Year, told IRIN today (Thursday) they had been informed that Red Cross volunteers were among the alleged victims. Regional ICRC information officer Nina Gelb said the organisation was collecting first-hand accounts of the alleged killings, and would be providing assistance to survivors "if the allegations prove to be true."

The Roman Catholic missionary news service (MISNA) reported on Tuesday that the killings occurred over two days from 30 December to 1 January in Makobola village, 15 km from Uvira. It said the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) rebels were believed to have been under a commander known in south Kivu as "Shetani," or Satan. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that most of the massacre victims were women and children as "the men had gone into the bush to join the Mayi-Mayi" rebels.

Kofi Annan condemns reported killings

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday (Wednesday) "strongly condemned" the alleged killings. He said in a statement he took note of the decision by the RCD to investigate the allegations and noted that a similar decision was announced regarding a reported massacre in August last year at a Roman Catholic mission at Kasika, also in south Kivu. He regretted that the conclusions of that probe had not been made public.

RCD says killed Burundi rebels, not civilians

An RCD statement yesterday denied its forces had massacred civilians in Makobola but said they had killed hundreds of Burundi rebels in the area where the alleged slaughter took place, news reports said. The statement said that 400 Burundian rebels crossed into eastern DRC on 31 December and were routed and the majority killed.

Rebel governor says no deaths in Makobola

A senior RCD official told the Rwanda News Agency yesterday that the population of Makobola village is less than 500, and "this is enough evidence that the reported massacre is not true." In a radio Bukavu broadcast today, monitored by the BBC, the rebel governor of South Kivu said "no single case of death" has been reported in Makobola.

Kabila offers to meet rebels in Kinshasa

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila has offered to meet RCD rebel leaders in Kinshasa. "They want to meet me and they whine," Reuters reported Kabila as saying on state television. "We invite them to Kinshasa to listen to them. And there is no question of our going to meet them elsewhere." Diplomatic sources told Reuters that they believed Kabila's offer was sincere.

Radio says rebels surrender to RCD

RCD-controlled Uvira radio said yesterday that some 100 "Congolese Hutu fighters" surrendered to the south Kivu authorities and have joined the rebel movement. The report said the ex-combattants, belonging to the "Rutambuka Group", were now at the Minova Training Centre, 160 km south of Goma. The authorities appealed to other opposition groups including the Mayi-Mayi to join the RCD movement, the radio said.

BURUNDI: Radio says 17 rebels killed near Nujumbura

State-run Radio Burundi has reported a military operation is currently underway in Mubone, Kabezi commune and that 17 "terrorists" had been killed over the last three days. Burundi's Tutsi-led government refers to the mainly Hutu rebel groups opposing its rule as "terrorists". The radio quoted the commander of the first military region Colonel Juvenal Niyoyunguruza as saying the area had been declared a "combat zone" since August 1998. The same official says the population of Mubone zone have been asked to leave the hill and seek protection near military positions. Meanwhile, humanitarian sources separately told IRIN heavy fighting had been reported in Bujumbura Rurale over recent weeks.

In its latest report on Humanitarian Operations in Burundi, OCHA said that though the city of Bujumbura had remained calm over the holiday period, attacks had continued in conflict-ridden areas in Bujumbura Rurale, Bururi and Bubanza. Incidents were also reported in Muramvya and Ruyigi. The report said a heavy clash on 30 December had left 28 people dead in Mukike commune in Bujumbura Rurale. Four days previously, four people had been killed in another clash. On 27 December, four people were also killedin Kanyosha commune when the provincial Director for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry was assassinated.

SUDAN: Political associations apply for party registration

Seven Sudanese political movements yesterday applied to register as political parties under a controversial new law, news reports said. Among the organisations is the ruling National Congress. Any group of 100 or more eligible voters can create a political association and request registration, but must abide by Islamic Sharia law. The main opposition parties are boycotting the registration because it is being held under a constitution which they say does not reflect Sudan's diversity.

Food aid needs fall in south

Food aid needs in southern Sudan have fallen during the present harvest and WFP is reducing the level of food aid distributions. WFP plans to distribute 7,700 mt in January, benefiting between 900,000 and one million people, the agency said in its latest December report.

ETHIOPIA/ERITREA: Contingency plan for renewed conflict

A contingency plan prepared by regional authorities in Tigray estimates that another 268,239 people in the region would be displaced by the resumption of conflict with Eritrea. A UN report received by IRIN said the plan, presented last month, was designed to meet the humanitarian needs of the potential additional population displacement, which might exceed the absorption capacity of the local communities that host the displaced. There are currently 315,976 conflict-affected displaced persons in Tigray, most of whom are being assisted by local families, the report said. Should conflict resume, the contingency plan envisages the need for additional shelter materials, water supply systems, latrines as well as temporary schools and clinics for the displaced, while food aid requirements until the harvest in November/December 1999 would increase to 128,625 mt, the report said.

GREAT LAKES: FAO reports overall improvement in food situation

FAO has reported an improved food situation in the Great Lakes region, but says the outlook in eastern DRC is bleak.

In its December report, FAO said that in Rwanda, the overall food situation has improved following a good 1998 B season harvest. However, the persistent insecurity in the northwestern prefectures continues to displace large and increasing numbers of the local population.

The food and nutritional situation of these IDPs is reported to be precarious. Recent estimates indicate that 300,000 persons are displaced in Ruhengeri, 250,000 in Gisenyi and 100,000 in Gikongoro. Food aid provided by WFP in these areas has doubled in the past six months.

In Burundi, the food supply situation, affected by a succession of poor crops and the embargo imposed by neighbouring countries, has eased with improved food production in 1998 and a revival of economic activities.

In the DRC civil strife has been occurring since the beginning of August, particularly in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, but also extending to Orientale, Maniema and Shaba provinces. The A season has started in these areas but insecurity is disrupting farming activities. Severe shortages of food and medical supplies are reported. Cholera remains a major concern, especially in the Shabunda area, where the cholera mortality rate is reported by some NGOs to be quite high. Moreover, during the last B season, many farming households were unable to take full advantage of the favourable weather conditions largely due to a shortage of inputs. Large-scale population movements have been reported, both within DRC and to neighbouring countries. (The full report is available on the FAO website at

Nairobi, 7 January 1999, 15:15 GMT


Date: Thu, 7 Jan 1999 18:37:26 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 582 for 7 Jan 1999.1.7

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

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