IRIN Update 588 for 15 Jan 1999

IRIN Update 588 for 15 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

Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

IRIN Update No. 588 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 15 January 1999)

SUDAN: Ceasefire extended for three months

The Khartoum government and Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have agreed to a three-month extension of the ceasefire in Bahr al-Ghazal, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, Ambassador Tom Eric Vraalsen said in a press conference in Nairobi today (Friday). He added that Khartoum was equally concerned over the activities of maverick warlord Kerubino Kwanyin Bol, who recently defected back to the government's side with a force of 600 men, and is believed to be heading towards Bahr-al-Ghazal.

Vraalsen also said there was agreement in principle for UN missions to open in the Nuba mountains. The ambassador noted that a US $180-200 million appeal for Sudan would be launched next week, and he added that he was impressed with the impact of the humanitarian effort in Bahr al-Ghazal last year.

Meanwhile, rebel spokesman John Luk said in Nairobi today the ceasefire would be unilaterally extended by the SPLA for the first time to cover central Upper Nile to help relief assistance, Reuters reported.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Lusaka summit postponed

The Lusaka summit has again been postponed over the refusal of DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila to meet DRC rebels face-to-face, Reuters reported. Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, who flew to Lubumbashi yesterday to meet Kabila, told the government-owned 'Times of Zambia' on his return: "I was over ambitious." Regional defence and foreign ministers are scheduled to hold talks today on a draft agenda. "We want to allow the officials already meeting here to work all round until after Sunday. Then I can call for the summit," the 'Times of Zambia' reported Chiluba as saying. Ministers from 15 countries have been invited to Lusaka to prepare the summit outline, SAPA reported.

RCD wants active participation

Rebel Rassemblement congolaise pour la democratie (RCD) leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba said yesterday (Thursday) the movement wanted active participation in the Lusaka summit. "We will only take part in the Lusaka summit if we are [included] in the plenary sessions," he told AFP. "We must be associated directly in discussions and not sidelined in an adjoining room."

Bukavu attack repulsed

The RCD claimed they beat off an assault yesterday on the eastern town of Bukavu, inflicting heavy losses on Mayi-Mayi and Rwandan and Burundi rebel insurgents. AFP quoted RCD commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane as saying today that 47 of the attackers were killed, with the biggest casualty toll inflicted at the town's airport. He said the RDC lost one man killed and four wounded.

Central Bank governor reportedly arrested

DRC Central Ban Governor Jean-Claude Masangu Mulongo and "two associates" were arrested yesterday, AFP quoted bank sources as saying. No reasons for the arrests were given, but there was speculation the move was linked to the Central Bank's opposition to a government decree outlawing the use of foreign currency in domestic transactions.

KENYA: Drought threatens lives in arid parts of Kenya

Failure of the short October-December rains is threatening thousands of people and livestock in the arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya. Reports from the ministry of agriculture paint a grim picture of the food situation, with unbalanced distribution of harvest yields throughout the country's eight provinces. "The Rift Valley and Western provinces got bumper harvests but the rest have nothing, posing a serious problem for the country's food security," Ann Onyango, an expert on crop reserves in the ministry, told IRIN.

The price of maize, a staple food, is rising steadily yet most of the affected communities lack purchasing power. Farmers are exporting their grains to neighbouring Tanzania, also faced with serious shortages, for better prices. In Tanzania maize fetches about US $20 for a 90 kg bag, compared to about US $12 offered by Kenya's National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). Experts blame the shortfall on unpredictable weather, poor distribution of food surplus and marketing, and over-reliance on maize.

RWANDA: UNHCR to register old caseload returnees

UNHCR estimates that some 2,000 Hutu refugees have recently crossed back into the country from Masisi in eastern DRC. Of these, some 25 percent are believed to be old caseload refugees from 1994 whom UNHCR intends to register in the coming days. "There have been ongoing and spontaneous returns from that area for some time," a UN official told IRIN today.

CHILDREN: Amnesty report outlines plight of children in armed conflict

At least 300,000 children under 18 are actively engaged in combat, with thousands more under arms ready to be sent on active service, according to Rachel Brett, a co-author of an Amnesty International report, 'In the firing line'. Lightweight automatic weapons and the shift to internal conflicts has led to the recruitment of children as young as 10 years. These children are denied the most basic human rights, the report says. Child combatants are frequently exposed to brutal initiation ceremonies, and forced to commit atrocities against their own comrades or their parents and siblings. Over the course of a seven-month campaign, Amnesty aims to help create a new international agreement to raise the minimum age of recruitment of soldiers from 15 to 18 years, and an ILO convention to prohibit child soldiers.

Nairobi, 15 January 1999, 15:15 GMT


Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 18:43:23 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 588 for 15 Jan 1999.1.15

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific