IRIN Update 596 for 27 Jan 1999.

IRIN Update 596 for 27 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. 596 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 27 January 1999)

TANZANIA/DRC: DRC refugees stream into Tanzania

Thousands of DRC refugees are streaming back into Tanzania barely one year after their repatriation, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in Nairobi today (Wednesday). About 800 refugees have been arriving at the Lake Tanganyika port of Kigoma daily, according to UNHCR. At this rate, the Federation estimates that one of their camps run specifically for Congolese refugees could be filled to its 40,000 capacity within a month. The Federation says that more refugees were waiting to cross into Tanzania and that thousands who could not afford the crossing price of US $10 a head charged by private boats were said to be stranded in the Congolese bush.

A threat of a possible cholera outbreak in the Lugufu camp, 90 km east of Kigoma, had prompted the Federation to screen refugees coming through Kigoma before transporting them to the camp. The disease is endemic on both sides of the lake and a few cases have been detected among refugees arriving in Kigoma. Some 26,000 DRC refugees have crossed into Tanzania since August last year. Many of these were repatriated from Tanzania less than a year ago but are now returning since renewed hostilities broke out in eastern DRC.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: WFP to begin airlift to Brazzaville

WFP is to begin an airlift tomorrow (Thursday) of 1,000 mt of food aid from Pointe-Noire to Brazzaville. A WFP spokeswoman told IRIN the operation would last one week and that part of the supplies would go to Kinshasa. This is a fifth extension of WFP's airlift into both Congos over the last few months. Aid agencies have been hamstrung in distributing assistance in Congo-Brazzaville due to the continued instability.

Mobilisation ordered in south

The Congo-Brazzaville government yesterday (Tuesday) ordered military mobilisation in the south of the country, Reuters reported. Defence Minister Lekoundzou Itihi Ossetoumba ordered all army and gendarmerie personnel to report to their barracks in preparation for operations against anti-government militia. Fighting around the southern town of Dolisie has pitted the army against Cocoyes militia loyal to ousted president Pascal Lissouba. Eight people - six rebels and two government soldiers - were killed in clashes on Monday, the defence ministry said. According to Africa No1 radio in Gabon, civilians are fleeing the town towards the southern city of Pointe-Noire.

RWANDA: Food shortages reported in Kibungo

Food shortages are being reported in parts of Kibungo prefecture, eastern Rwanda, according to WFP. Local authorities report that a total of 70,000 people are affected by the failure of the bean crop and are subsisting on cassava, stocks of which are dwindling. WFP is considering food-for-work programmes rather than general free food distribution.

Meanwhile, local authorities have confirmed a decreasing number of malnutrition cases in the northwestern prefecture of Gisenyi. Supplementary wet feeding is to be phased out in most centres during February, WFP said.

Kigali denies support for UNITA

Rwanda has denied Angolan allegations it is supporting UNITA rebels. "Those claiming that we are supporting [UNITA] have no evidence for those accusations," Foreign Affairs Minster Anastase Gasana told the private Rwanda News Agency yesterday. He also rejected allegations that arms for UNITA were transiting through Rwanda's airports. The news agency quoted a senior army officer as claiming that Luanda was looking for scapegoats in claiming Rwandan troops were fighting alongside the rebel movement in Angola.

UGANDA: Museveni insists on multi-party referendum

President Yoweri Museveni said yesterday he would stick to plans for a referendum next year on a return to multi-partyism and attacked critics calling for political reform. "The referendum is a constitutional matter and not a mere dictate of government," Reuters reported him as saying. A referendum on multi-partyism every five years is stipulated in the 1995 constitution. Catholic church leaders have joined opposition groups insisting that democracy is a human right which does not need ratification through a referendum.

WFP urges donors to support emergency operation

WFP has urged donors to pledge support for an emergency operation for displaced persons in northern Uganda. Food distributions in the IDP camps in Gulu district are temporarily restricted to priority nutritional programmes because of lack of resources for this operation, the agency warned. The WFP emergency operation requires close to 58,000 mt of food for a one-year period for distribution to 347,000 displaced people in need of on-going assistance.

WFP is trying to secure loans from other operations to resume full distributions in Gulu. Distributions in the district of Kitgum have been less affected due to remaining food stocks at the location, but replenishments are due immediately.

KENYA: Violence breaks out in refugee camp

Violence has flared in refugee camps in northeastern Kenya, UNHCR reports. Four men and two boys aged 15 and 17 were found tied to trees and shot dead close to Hagadera camp on 21 January. The police detained five men in connection with the incident. Amid increased tensions, fighting broke out in Hagadera on Sunday and 91 refugee shelters were torched. Twenty people were injured in renewed fighting on Monday, despite the earlier intervention of police and refugee and local elders. Hagadera houses some 35,000 Somali refugees.

SUDAN: Khartoum confirms partial ceasefire

Sudan has extended a partial ceasefire for three months in Bahr al-Ghazal and western Upper Nile, Reuters reported. But, according to Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail, "I hope this will be the last partial ceasefire." He accused the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) of misusing previous truces to buildup its military forces.

GREAT LAKES: Strong economic growth predicted for Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania

Strong economic growth is expected in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania in 1999, but the decline of the DRC is set to continue, according to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU). After achieving 7 percent GDP growth last year, Rwanda may not quite meet its targets of 7.5 percent in both 1999 and 2000. Nevertheless, the high growth should tempt more direct foreign investment. But, the EIU says, donors are not yet prepared to reduce Rwanda's growing debt-service arrears, which currently total about US $100 million from a total debt stock of US $1.1 billion. In Uganda, GDP growth is expected to hit 6 percent this year - assuming favourable weather conditions - slightly up on 1998.

Tanzania's GDP growth is forecast to rebound to 5 percent this year - again assuming good weather. But much will depend on how quickly the Tanzanian government can repair El Nino damage to roads and bridges, EIU's latest country update says. In the DRC, the EIU believes the government's prediction of 2.5 percent GDP growth in 1998 appears "extremely optimistic". Continued instability will restict mineral production and investment funds are expected to be scarce. According to a World Bank study, it will take 46 consecutive years of 6 percent annual real GDP growth for annual per capita income to rise to US $450 in the DRC. Kenya's GDP growth for 1999 will be an equally lackluster 1.6 percent rising to 2 percent in the year 2000, EIU forecasts.

WHO: Brundtland spells out future role

Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, the new Director-General of the World Health Organisation, has pledge to put health "at the core of the international development agenda". In a broad policy speech, entitled "WHO? The Way Ahead", Brundtland yesterday presented her vision for bringing the WHO into the new century. Addressing the WHO Executive Board in Geneva, she said sound investment in health was one of the most cost-effective ways of promoting development and progress. She underlined that improving health in poor countries led to increased GDP per capita and in richer countries it reduced overall costs to society.

"In time of global trade and investment, where nations are searching for ways to make ends meet, we have been sitting on a secret," Brundtland stressed. She said the organisation should forge closer links with the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation and initiate a "new dialogue" with the International Monetary Fund. (full text of speech available on: )

Nairobi, 27 January 1999, 14:30 GMT


Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 19:15:48 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 596 for 27 Jan 1999.1.27

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,