IRIN Update No. 606 for Central and Eastern Africa, 10 Feb 1999

IRIN Update No. 606 for Central and Eastern Africa, 10 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. 606 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 10 February 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Fragile food security in Kinshasa

Worsening economic conditions and people's diminishing purchasing power are taking an increasingly heavy toll on food security in Kinshasa, humanitarian sources say. Imports of fuel, food and other basic commodities have decreased since the government introduced new currency regulations, and food availability in the capital has been reduced by the transport of some food supplies from Kinshasa to Brazzaville, the sources said. The closing or scaling-down of some factories and businesses in Kinshasa has led to rising unemployment, while increases in public transportation costs have further reduced the amount of money people have for food, the sources added.

Meanwhile, families on the outskirts of Kinshasa devote 90 percent of their daily expenses for the purchase of food and consume meat only once every 15 days, according to a recent survey cited in a food security report prepared by FAO in Kinshasa. Thirty-nine church-run feeding centres for malnourished children in the city reported a total of 145 deaths in December 1998, the report added. The monthly average for the year was 100 deaths.

WFP plans to truck food to Goma

WFP plans to deliver 400 mt of food per month to Goma as soon as security conditions permit. The supplies are to cover the immediate needs of malnourished and displaced persons in the town, WFP's latest emergency report says. Initially, deliveries are to be trucked in from Uganda. Meanwhile, an inter-agency mission visited Luozi in Bas-Congo at the end of last month to assess the condition of Congolese refugees who had fled fighting in Brazzaville. The mission identified 16,500 persons in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.

Basic health facilities to be re-established

The NGO Medical Emergency Relief International (Merlin) is to assist in the re-establishment of health facilities in Kalima, Kindu, Punia and Kampene in Maniema, eastern DRC. Merlin's regional representative, Una MacAskill, told IRIN today (Wednesday) that some 505,000 people have been affected by the destruction or disrepair of health centres. "It is an effort to increase access to basic health care temporarily. We hope to help health workers collect and build up credible, reliable data on the health situation in these areas," she said. Besides the provision of basic health services, Merlin plans to support the resettlement of approximately 110,000 people displaced in Kalima and Kindu.

Rwanda, Uganda a regional "danger'"

The Angolan ambassador to DRC, Joao Batista Mawete, has accused Rwanda and Uganda of "putting international security in danger," AFP reported today. In an interview with the Kinshasa daily 'Le Potentiel', Mawete said: "What is happening militarily in the DRC is not different from what we are experiencing in Angola. There are hundreds of Rwandans and Ugandans in the ranks of UNITA." He said both countries were arming and training the rebel movement. He added that Luanda's "active" support for the Kinshasa government was "unconditional".

SUDAN: Refugees flee into Chad

According to UNHCR, 4,000 Sudanese have fled western Darfur into Chad. They have settled in the Adre region and are in a "very precarious situation", a UNHCR spokesman told IRIN today. Arab and African communities clashed last month near the Darfur border town of al-Geneina in a dispute over grazing land. The fighting has so far left 108 people dead and 40 wounded, AFP reported today. More than 50 villages were destroyed and at least 1,600 families left homeless. President Omar al-Bashir has declared a state of emergency in the area.

Dinka-Nuer local peace effort launched

A local initiative to reconcile Dinka and Nuer communities has been launched by the New Sudan Council of Churches. A delegation of Nuer chiefs from Western Upper Nile and Dinka chiefs from Rumbeck are to meet tomorrow (Thursday) in Thiet, Bahr al-Ghazal, with the support of the local authorities. "After more than seven years of fighting and untold levels of suffering, a people's peace movement is underway," the New Sudan Council of Churches said in a statement sent to IRIN. The meeting of the chiefs is to prepare the ground - and provide the security guarantees - for a much more ambitious peace conference in which "hundreds of Nuer" are to be invited, unarmed, to the land of their "traditional enemies". A meeting house to seat 1,000 people, toukels (huts) and stores have been built by Dinka youths for the visitors from the east of the Nile, in what will be a process of lengthy discussion and debate, the statement said. A similar follow-on meeting is planned later in the year in Nuerland.

BURUNDI: Split in UPRONA deepens

Police and gendarmes broke up a meeting at the weekend of the UPRONA faction led by Charles Mukasi, according to the private Burundian news service 'Net Press'. The police were acting on the urging of the rival faction, headed by current interim president Luc Rukingama, the dispatch alleged. The rift in UPRONA ('Union pour le Progres national') developed over the decision by Rukingama's group to join the Arusha peace process, media sources in Bujumbura told IRIN. The move was opposed by then party leader Mukasi. In October last year, UPRONA's Central Committee voted Mukasi out. UPRONA is not Burundi's only divided party. A recent UN report notes that "disconcerting divisions continue within nearly all the main parties to the Arusha talks". The next Arusha round is scheduled for early March.

South Africa backs peace process

South Africa has provided "diplomatic and financial support" to the Burundi peace process and has pledged to assist in the "socio-economic reconstruction" of the country, deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad said yesterday (Tuesday). Pahad said in a statement after meeting Burundi's Transitional Assembly second vice president Augustine Nzojibwami, that South Africans were also participating in two key committees set up at Arusha. President Nelson Mandela's legal advisor Fink Haysom chairs the committee on constitutional reform and transitional institutions. South African General Andrew Masondo is vice-chair of the committee dealing with the cessation of hostilities and related military matters.

RWANDA: Tutsi woman testifies for genocide suspect

A Tutsi woman testified yesterday at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda in Arusha that she spent two days unharmed in the house of ex-Interahamwe second-in-command Georges Rutaganda in April 1994, Agence Hirondelle, an independent news agency, reported. She said "at least 10 others", including Tutsis, had sheltered there, and Rutaganda "treated them well". Another witness said he saw no one detained, beaten or tortured in Rutaganda's house. The prosecution charges that in April 1994, the Interahamwe leader detained Tutsis at home, had 10 macheted to death, and handed out arms to the Interahamwe. In its opening statement in 1997, the prosecution charged that the attitude of the accused changed at times and he managed to save people. These were sure to testify in his favour, but his "genocidal intentions" were unmistakable, said the prosecution.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Eritrea claims a lull in ground war

"Serious fighting ended on Monday," a spokeswoman for the Eritrean US embassy told IRIN today. Another Eritrean spokesman told journalists in Asmara the Ethiopian offensive had "run out of steam". However, an Ethiopian spokeswoman this morning told AFP that fighting continued. Egypt, Yemen, Japan and the USA are among many countries appealing for a ceasefire in the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea which flared up on Saturday. The UN Security Council was expected to pass a new resolution later on Wednesday, UN sources said. Two diplomatic sources told IRIN that dual threats of terrorism and possible conflict-related insecurity would lead to a US announcement later today on the withdrawal of non-emergency diplomatic staff and dependents from Ethiopia.

AFRICA: Annan urges prioritisation of science and technology

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for a transformation of "priorities and policies" in Africa to enable the continent to participate in an increasingly knowledge-driven world economy. "It is clear that science and technology will become ever more important to every country's growth and prosperity," Annan said in an address yesterday to a UNESCO meeting on the development of science and technology in Africa. Yet, there has been a steady decline in research and development in Africa from an already low level, "while the brain drain of Africa's best and brightest to the industrialised world has increased." Annan said Africa's share in world scientific outpuTwo diplomatic sources told IRIN that dual threats of terros and the mid-1990s. Africa as a whole counts only 20,000 scientists, or 0.36 percent of the world total. Despite Africa's vast mineral wealth, "as the market value of these commodities declines, the need to add value through scientific and technological refinements will only grow," he added. "And, if Africa is to redress its shortfall in human resources and scientific progress, it must begin by affording the education of girls and women complete and comprehensive equality."

Nairobi, 10 February 1999, 16:00 GMT


IRIN Update No. 606 for Central and Eastern Africa, 10 Feb 1999 Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 19:41:25 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <>

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,