IRIN Update 600 for 2 Feb 1999

IRIN Update 600 for 2 Feb 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. 600 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 2 February 1999)

SUDAN: UN launches US $200 million inter-agency appeal

The UN has launched a US $200 million inter-agency appeal for the Sudan for 1999. It covers the emergency and rehabilitation needs of more than four million war and drought-affected people in the south, the "transitional zone" and the displaced camps and settlements in the greater Khartoum area. The appeal includes 24 projects aimed at meeting the survival needs and strengthening the resiliency of communities through a combination of short and medium-term interventions.

The appeal document says that during the next 12 months, humanitarian conditions in some of the areas worst hit by famine are expected to slowly stabilise. However, renewed hostilities or natural disasters could tip the region back into crisis, and create new emergencies. Bahr al-Ghazal and western Upper Nile remain of particular concern. "No real progress on humanitarian issues can realistically be achieved unless the conflict ends," the appeal emphasises.

Government denies slavery accusations

The Sudanese government on Sunday denied the existence of slavery in territory it controls, AFP reported. Ali Ahmed Al-Nasry, head of a government committee set up in 1995 to investigate the issue, dismissed a report by the Swiss aid agency Christian Solidarity International that the NGO had ransomed more than 5,000 slaves in Sudan over the last four years. "Those CSI allegations are related to areas under the rebel movement," Al-Nasry said in a statement. "If there is slavery in those areas, the rebel movement [SPLA] is to blame."

CSI said a group of 1,050 people, mainly women and children, were released earlier this month after the NGO paid US $50 each for their freedom. Mike Dottridge, the director of the London-based Anti-Slavery International, said a "pattern of slavery exists" in which "thousands of women and children captured in raids by government-armed militia have been enslaved." He told IRIN that the captives seized, largely from Bahr al-Ghazal by Arab-speaking militia, are taken into southern Darfur and Kordofan. Sexual abuse and forced religious conversions of the abductees has been reported. "There is disagreement over the extent to which the government is involved," Dotteridge said. "Clearly it is a by-product of its militia policy, and the government could be accused of being criminally negligent for not dealing with it."

Nuba mountain mission expected soon

Negotiations are underway on the security and logistics for a UN assessment mission to the Nuba mountains. A UN official told IRIN that both the government and SPLA have agreed to the visit, and he expected the mission to "take place shortly". Meanwhile, the UN Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs for Sudan, Tom Vraalsen, has reportedly called on both parties to adhere to the agreements signed in Rome in November on increasing humanitarian access to the needy. The access agreement focuses on cross line relief deliveries by road from Lokichogio to Kapweta, and by rail from Babanusa to Wau.

Polio flourishes in war zone

The Jesuit Refugee Service has warned that it is almost impossible to carry out immunisation programs in southern Sudan because of the war. As a result, children continue to be vulnerable to easily preventable diseases such as polio and measles, a report received by IRIN said. "There are no opportunities to educate people on why they should have their children vaccinated, and it is almost impossible to maintain the cold-chain necessary to keep serum viable," it added.

Police detain political leader

Police broke up a news conference yesterday (Monday) by a banned Communist group and arrested at least 30 people, including 20 journalists, The Associated Press reported. The journalists were later released but members of the Modern Democratic Forces Movement, also known as Haq, remained in detention. Among them was movement leader al-Hajj Warrak, who announced last week he would test the government's new law legalising political associations. Under the law, political groups must obtain permission to form a party before they can hold public gatherings. So far, more than 28 associations have registered. According to AP, most of them belong to former southern rebels allied to the government.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Chiluba arrives in Kinshasa

Zambian President Frederick Chiluba arrived in Kinshasa today (Tuesday) in a fresh bid to end the DRC conflict, Reuters reported. Chiluba and DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila are to discuss peace talks to be held in Zambia in the coming days, government officials in Lusaka said. The talks, to involve foreign and defence ministers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and those from Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Libya and Uganda, are part of Chiluba's plan to secure a ceasefire. The Kinshasa administration has made much of the visit, which follows talks between Kabila and Chiluba in the southern Congolese city of Lubumbashi at the weekend, Reuters added.

RWANDA: OAU genocide investigation underway

A six-member OAU team has begun its investigation into the 1994 genocide, the private Rwanda News Agency said yesterday. The International Panel of Eminent Personalities arrived in Kigali on Sunday on a five-day fact-finding mission. The probe will cover the period beginning in August 1993 and the signing of the Arusha peace accord, to the fall of the Mobutu regime in May 1997.

KENYA: University closed over riots

The University of Nairobi was closed indefinitely yesterday after three days of rioting by students protesting over the "irregular" allocation of land in Karura forest - Kenya's largest indigenous forest - to developers. The closure preempted the student's ultimatum to the government, demanding that it declare its stand on the controversy by Tuesday. The riots paralysed parts of the city centre, left scores of students, police and members of the public injured, and property vandalised.

President Daniel arap Moi said yesterday the Karura controversy was propelled by hatred and tribalism. He wondered why it generated such heat when other suburbs of Nairobi which were once forests have given way to human settlement. Meanwhile, three MPs and a member of the Green Belt movement accused of incitement to violence over the Karura disturbances were released on bail today.

ERITREA-ETHIOPIA: UN Security Council urges Eritrea to accept OAU deal

An OAU official told IRIN yesterday that the OAU peace effort was "at a very crucial moment for everybody". Eritrea had asked 29 questions in its response to the OAU proposals in December last year, and the OAU's clarifications were delivered on 26 January this year, the official said. He said the OAU was hoping for a reply "as soon as possible".

In resolution 1226 adopted on Friday, the UN Security Council urged Eritrea to "accept the [OAU] Framework Agreement as the basis for a peaceful resolution of the border dispute". The Council called on both sides to exercise "maximum restraint" and undertake urgent measures to restore confidence, including" urgent measures to improve the humanitarian situation and respect for human rights." Eritrea blasted alleged US "interference" in the peace process in a letter to the Security Council, saying the framework "is not a 'take it or leave it' offer". In the latest round of human rights allegations, Amnesty International protested Ethiopia's expulsion of Eritreans and Ethiopia on Saturday demanded international access to its prisoners of war.

Nairobi, 2 February 1999, 15:00 GMT


Date: Tue, 2 Feb 1999 18:58:25 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 600 for 2 Feb 1999.2.2

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,