UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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. 587 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 14 January 1999)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Chiluba in pre-summit meet with Kabila
Zambian President Frederick Chiluba flew to Lubumbashi today (Thursday) in an attempt to secure direct talks between President Laurent-Desire Kabila and DRC rebels, Reuters reported. The dispatch quoted diplomats as saying Kabila still opposes face-to-face negotiations with the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) - a pre-condition the rebels had set for attending this weekend's Lusaka peace summit. Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa insist that the Lusaka meeting can only make progress with the active participation of the RCD at the negotiating table.
Meanwhile, regional defence and foreign ministers gathered in Lusaka today in preparation for the weekend summit. Zambian government officials said the ministerial talks today and tomorrow (Friday) would also involve officials from SADC, OAU and the United Nations, Reuters reported.
Shooting breaks out in Bukavu
Shooting was heard in the rebel-held town of Bukavu today. Humanitarian sources told IRIN they believed Mayi-Mayi forces had infiltrated the centre of town, with firing particularly heavy around the radio and television station. The sources reported that Goma was quiet.
Rwandan rebels kill six in Masisi
Rwandan Hutu rebels killed six people last Friday, including two RCD rebel soldiers at Kiwinja, in the Rutshuru region of north Kivu. The private Rwanda News Agency quoted eye-witnesses as saying the night attack was carried out by a large group of Interahamwe militia, who also looted drugs, goods and cattle. RCD commander Jonas Padiri said the situation was quickly brought under control by RCD forces in the area. "Although security has been re-established in the areas of Masisi and Rutshuru, there still exists some pockets of Rwandan Hutu extremists who had been operating from those regions," he said.
Government recaptures three northwestern towns
DRC government forces have recaptured three towns in the northwest, Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba said today. He told the Associated Press that a week of bombing forced the withdrawal of his forces from Gemena, Businga and Libenge. Bemba said they had fallen back to Lisala. "We are fighting Central Africans, Sudanese, Chadians, Interahamwe, but virtually no Congolese," AFP reported him as saying yesterday. "We are being bombed every day by Sudanese Antonovs. The Chadians now have tanks which come from Libya, and CAR is supporting Kabila."
Jury out on Makobola massacre
Journalists who recently visited the alleged massacre site of Makobola in south Kivu told IRIN they found no firm evidence that an atrocity had occurred. "Something happened but we don't know the scale," one journalist who accompanied an RCD investigation team said. "My impression was that there was a [RCD] counter-offensive which was pretty indiscriminate." DRC refugees in Tanzania claimed that up to 500 people were killed in the village over the New Year in reprisal for a Mayi-Mayi attack on an RCD unit in the area. RCD officials said the civilian death toll did not exceed 10 people, who were caught in crossfire. Journalists reported Makobola residents as saying there had been a massacre, but could find no mass graves during their short stay.
NGO fighting cholera in south Kivu
SCF-UK is working with all local authorities in south Kivu to fight a cholera epidemic. Cholera treatment medicines, food and non-food items have been distributed in 12 affected areas of the 14 health zones in the region, SCF told IRIN. Additional training on cholera treatment has taken place in five of these health zones.
New DRC refugee arrivals
A total of 926 new DRC refugees arrived at Kigoma's Nyarugusu camp between 8-11 January, UNHCR reports. The arrivals bring the total number of Congolese refugees in the Tanzanian camp to 20,352.
Civilian hospital bombed
Sudanese aircraft yesterday bombed a civilian hospital in Kajo Keji, Western Equatoria. Three of the five bombs dropped hit the hospital compound in which MSF works, completely destroying the immunisation block and causing extensive damage to the surgical theatre and outpatient department, an MSF statement said. There were no casualties. "MSF questions whether this is a deliberate policy of the government of Sudan to target civilian populations and hospitals," MSF's head of mission in southern Sudan, Etorre Larici said in the statement. He added the bombing would have a "huge impact" on the local population. "Many displaced people and refugees have been returning to Kajo Keji county primarily because of the medical services available."
MSF calls for ceasefire extension beyond Bahr al-Ghazal
MSF has urged the extension of the ceasefire in Bahr al-Ghazal, due to expire tomorrow (Friday), to cover the rest of southern Sudan. "The population of south Sudan is still on the emergency threshold and in a fragile state," MSF spokeswoman Malini Morzarta told IRIN today. "Without the same amount of assistance going in for the population and relative stability to receive medical and nutritional assistance, the consequences on the already fragile population could be disastrous."
A source within the Sudan People's Liberation Army told IRIN today that: "We believe there will be no obstacle to the extension of the ceasefire in Bahr al-Ghazal." However, humanitarian workers stressed that a truce would not apply to pro-government militia and competing warlords. They added that former SPLA commander Kerubino Kwanyin Bol had recently defected back to the government's side with a force of 600 men, and was believed to be heading towards Bahr-al-Ghazal.
Sudan charges Eritrea with massing troops on its frontier
Sudan has charged Eritrea with massing troops on the frontier in preparation for an attack. In a televised statement last night, armed forces spokesman Lieutenant General Abdel Rahman Sir Al-Khatim, said information indicated an Eritrean troop build-up along the common border with the objective of launching an attack in the next few days. He said this attack should have taken place last month, but declined to say why it had failed. No independent source has confirmed this claim yet. Meanwhile, the Sudan army said it was monitoring the situation "very closely" and would hit back in case of an attack.
Nairobi, 14 January 1999 15:30 GMT
Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 18:50:58 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 587 for 14 Jan 1999.1.14
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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