IRIN Update 591 for 20 Jan 1999

IRIN Update 591 for 20 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. 591 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 20 January 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rwanda urges rebels to accept ceasefire

Rwanda yesterday (Tuesday) urged DRC rebels to sign the ceasefire agreement reached in Windhoek, Reuters reported. The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) "should be led one way or another to place their signature on the accord," Rwandan Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana said. He confirmed that Kigali would sign the agreement, reached by Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Rwanda on Monday.

RCD insist on talks with Kabila

The RCD, while welcoming the ceasefire deal, have insisted that only direct talks with President Laurent-Desire Kabila on democratic reforms would bring peace, news organisations reported. "The agreement on a ceasefire is good for the foreign countries, and it may be good for the people of Congo, if it brings us a step closer to direct negotiations," senior RCD official Bizima Karaha said yesterday. Deputy leader Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma stressed: "We have to discuss who will be the parties involved in the negotiations ... and we will then have to discuss how to set up a transitional system that will lead to a true democracy."

Zambia warns Angola

Zambian President Frederick Chiluba has warned his country will defend itself if Angola decides to attack, 'The Post' newspaper reported today (Wednesday). Responding to Angolan government allegations that Zambia was supporting the rebel UNITA movement, Chiluba described the claim as "extremely sad" because Lusaka had neither the political will nor the finances to become involved in Angola's conflict. According to Chiluba, those making the allegations wanted to compromise Zambia's position as mediator in the DRC conflict. [For full report see IRIN-SA item: 'ZAMBIA: Chiluba warns against Angola attack']

Nine allied soldiers die in helicopter crashes

Nine allied military personnel died on Friday when two Namibian helicopters crashed in the DRC due to bad weather. Four Zimbabwean officers including two colonels and a major were killed along with the two Namibian pilots and three technicians, news reports said. Two other unidentified military personnel died in the crash. The helicopters were travelling to southeastern Katanga province. An official total of 35 Zimbabwean soldiers and 10 Namibians have died in the DRC conflict.

BURUNDI: Parties determined to find solution to Burundi's problems

Representatives of the parties engaged in the Burundi peace process are determined to come up with concrete solutions to the country's problems, a spokesman of the Nyerere Foundation, Mark Bomani, told IRIN today. "All parties are seriously deliberating both in the plenary and committee sessions. The process is peaceful and everyone is listening to the other," he said.

Debate on economic reconstruction and rehabilitation has taken center stage in the first three days of the proposed two-week talks. "We have no infrastructure, thousands of people are displaced, many are refugees. People's lives were disrupted and destroyed and this is the concern of all political parties represented here," CNDD's spokesman, Leonce Ndarubagiye, told IRIN.

UN Security Council calls for positive debate in Arusha

Meanwhile, the President of the UN Security Council, Ambassador Celso Amorim of Brazil, said yesterday that Council members expressed support for the Arusha peace process and urged the international community to provide financial support. "Members of the Security Council encouraged all parties, including the government of Burundi, to negotiate seriously in Arusha so as to bring an end to the volatile situation in the country," Ambassador Amorim said. The Council also appealed to regional leaders who imposed sanctions against Burundi to review them with a view to lifting them, or at least suspending them, on the basis of proposals by Nyerere.

UGANDA: ADF kill 5, abduct 6

Five people were killed and six abducted in two separate raids by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in western Uganda, the semi-official 'New Vision' yesterday reported security sources as saying. The attacks occurred over the past week in Kaberole and Bundibugyo districts. The rebels, operating in small groups and described as desperate and hungry by the army, also reportedly ransacked shops, stealing food and medical supplies.

AFRICA: UNICEF launches emergency appeal for women and children

UNICEF yesterday launched an appeal for over US $136 million in emergency assistance for some 48 million children and women victims of war, violence and extreme poverty in 20 countries. "The entire picture of war in the world has changed. Children and women are not only the first casualties in armed conflicts, but are deliberately targeted and forced to take part," UNICEF Executive Director, Carol Bellamy said in a statement. Her appeal is not only for funds, but for the UN Security Council to heighten recognition of the needs of children and women in emergency situations.

"Armed conflicts, the HIV-AIDS pandemic and poverty have heavily impacted on the lives of women and children in the East, Central and Horn of Africa region. The situation is grave," UNICEF's Regional Programme Planning Officer, Joan Csete, told IRIN. "Keeping children and their mothers alive was an uphill task for us last year. The problem is enormous."

AFRICA: HIV vaccine trials to be launched

A network of HIV vaccine trials has been proposed for Africa. The initiative aims to shorten the time taken to develop a vaccine by testing possible antedotes in parallel, while providing training and support to African scientists. Vaccine testing is due to start in Uganda next month, and separate trials are expected to begin this year at Oxford University with the participation of Kenyan scientists. Phase II field trials could be undertaken in Kenya by the year 2000, subject to government approval. A UNAIDS official told IRIN that discussions are also underway with the authorities in South Africa, Zambia and Ethiopia for vaccine testing. "We cannot afford to waste time," the UNAIDS official said. "We would like to see different types of vaccines tested," to take into account the various strains of the virus.

Nairobi, 20 January 1999, 14:20 GMT


Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 17:57:48 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 591 for 20 Jan 1999.1.20

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

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