IRIN Update 595 for 26 Jan 1999

IRIN Update 595 for 26 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. 595 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 26 January 1999)

SUDAN: Yei bombed by Sudan air force

The Sudanese air force bombed the southern town of Yei today (Tuesday) for the second time in three days, Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) told IRIN. Five bombs landed close to the hospital run by NPA, but no casualties were reported. A Norwegian MP and union youth leader were in the town during the attack. The bombing follows an air raid on Sunday which killed three people including a pregnant women and a child. Ten bombs were dropped - again apparently aimed at the hospital - NPA said. "We condemn the air attacks in the strongest possible terms," an NPA official told IRIN. "They [the Khartoum authorities] are targetting civilians. Yei is not a war front." The rebel-held town has been bombed a total of 12 times since last year, the official said.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: "Distinct possibility" of more conflict

Recent fighting in Brazzaville has had an immense impact on a population that was just starting to recover from the devastating 1997 civil war, a UN humanitarian report says. About 10 percent of the country's 2.7 million people has been recently displaced and much of the country has been plunged back into chaos and insecurity, fueling growing feelings of resentment among an already war-traumatised population, the report says. In view of the current military and political situation, a further escalation of hostilities over the next few months is a "distinct possibility", it says.

Efforts to promote reconciliation in the period after the 1997 war were hampered by very poor donor response to consolidated emergency appeals launched after the end of that five-month conflict, the report adds. The prevalence of different armed groups and the on-going crises in neighbouring countries now make the attainment of a sustainable resolution to the Congolese conflict even more unlikely, it says. The report describes a UN/NGO plan to provide emergency assistance to people affected by last month's heavy fighting in southern Brazzaville. The two-month plan calls for the provision of food rations to 200,000 displaced persons, therapeutic treatment for 3,000 malnourished children, support to Brazzaville's health structures and assistance to some 200 displaced unaccompanied children.

Rebel advance halted

Government troops yesterday (Monday) repelled a rebel advance on the southeastern town of Dolosie, AFP reported. The rebels loyal to ousted president Pascal Lissouba got as far as the town centre and tried to occupy the station and airport. Radio France Internationale said Lissouba militiamen also attacked a troop train at the weekend in the Bouenza region. The train managed to return to Dolosie.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels restructure their movement

The Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) has restructured its movement, the private Rwanda News Agency reported yesterday. The general assembly has been enlarged from 28 to 147 members, including 22 military personnel: The executive committee, acting as the RCD's government, now comprises 23 departments instead of the previous eight; and a 10-man political council to head the movement has been created. The general assembly stressed the need for better cohesion between political and military wings, RNA said. Quoting an RCD press release, the news agency reported the membership of the political council as follows:

Chairman, Ernest Wamba dia Wamba: First Vice-Chairman, Moise Nyarugabo: Second Vice-Chairman, Jean Pierre Ondekane: Rapporteur, Jacques Depelchin: Chairman of the Assembly, Mbusa Nyamwisi: Vice-Chairman of the Assembly, Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma: Coordinator of RCD executive committee, Lunda Bululu: Deputy-Coordinator of the RCD Executive Committee, Bizima Karaha: Members elected by the Assembly, Kalala Shambuyi, and Leon Muheto.

BURUNDI: WFP welcomes lifting of sanctions

WFP has welcomed the suspension of sanctions against Burundi as a "major step in restoring the country's ability to meet its food needs." In a statement received by IRIN, WFP said the economic embargo had driven up the cost of food and agricultural inputs, deepening poverty. Many families have been unable to afford to grow enough food or buy supplies in the market, increasing their vulnerability to malnutrition and disease, the statement said. Livestock health deteriorated over the embargo period due to the cost of vetinary supplies. Cash crop industries, which in the past accounted for 80 percent of the country's foreign earnings, were unable to officially export their harvests, resulting in higher unemployment.

"It will take time before Burundi's agricultural production returns top previous levels," WFP's Representative in Burundi said in the statement. "The country will need significant amounts of food aid in the immediate future to enable families to slowly recover, and allow the tens of thousands affected by insecurity to receive emergency assistance."

UGANDA: British government unable to confirm extradition request

The British Home Office has been unable to confirm press reports that Uganda has requested the extradition of former Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) spokesman Powell Onen P'Ojwang. Extradition proceedings are underway following a US appeal, "but I'm not aware that we had another request for him," an official told IRIN today. "They [Uganda] may not have submitted it yet." The semi-official 'New Vision' yesterday quoted Minister of Internal Affairs Tom Butime as saying a formal request had been made for P'Ojwang to stand trail for "atrocities". He was arrested in July last year and is in custody in Brixton prison awaiting extradition proceedings to the US where he is wanted on fraud charges.

ADF begins new recruitment drive

The rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have begun a fresh recruitment drive in western Uganda, according to senior army officials. The semi-official 'New Vision' quoted officers in Kasese as saying rebel agents are offering cash rewards to volunteers and promises of financial support to their families. Last week seven newly-recruited youths were captured by the army and seven rebels killed in an army ambush in Kasese, the newspaper said.

KENYA: Cholera outbreaks in parts of Kenya

Kenya's ministry of health has informed WHO of an outbreak of cholera in Nyanza, Eastern, Rift Valley and Nairobi Provinces. As of 19 January 1999, a total of 1025 cases with 25 deaths is estimated to have occurred. The ministry of health has set up a National Cholera Control Task Force in collaboration with WHO. Similar Task Forces have been formed at provincial and district levels. The outbreak has been brought under control and the number of cases is declining rapidly, WHO said in a statement. Kenya has been suffering from a major cholera epidemic since mid-1997. The cumulative total number of cases reported to WHO was 17,200 in 1997 and 22,432 in 1998 with 555 and 1,237 deaths respectively.

RWANDA: OAU genocide investigation launched

The OAU began an investigation yesterday into the causes of the 1994 genocide, Reuters reported. "The question that still haunts us is how Africa and the world community stood helplessly while children, women and men [were] butchered to death by their fellow citizens," OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim told the panel's first meeting in Addis Ababa. The year-long investigation, set up under the OAU's conflict prevention body, is chaired by former Botswana president Ketumile Masire.

Genocide trial opens in Arusha

The genocide trial of Alfred Musema, a former tea factory director, began in Arusha yesterday. The prosecution presented its opening arguments linking the accused to massacres in Kibuye in 1994. The defence opted not to present its opening argument at this stage, a press release by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said. Musema is charged with seven counts of genocide.

UNITED NATIONS: Development and democratisation keys to peace

The character of UN peacekeeping has changed since the end of the Cold War, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in Dublin last week. Peacekeeping can no longer be seen in isolation - the traditional deployment of blue helmets to monitor an agreed ceasefire - but as a variety of "closely interrelated tasks" stretching from conflict prevention, conflict resolution, to post-conflict peace building. Annan, speaking at the National University of Ireland after receiving an honorary degree, said: "Social justice and material well-being may not be absolute guarantors of civil peace, but they certainly make its preservation a lot easier."

He said the UN had started to embrace a new concept of security, by trying to promote both development and democratisation as part of a comprehensive strategy known as "preventive peace building". Annan stressed the UN has two intimately related goals - peace and development: "If we are serious about conflict prevention, we must take action in the economic and social field that brings real hope to those who are at present denied it."

Nairobi, 26 January 1999, 15:00 GMT


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Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 18:46:03 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 595 for 26 Jan 1999.1.26

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,