IRIN Update 609 for 13-15 Feb 1999.2.15

IRIN Update 609 for 13-15 Feb 1999.2.15

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. 609 for Central and Eastern Africa (Saturday 13 - Monday 15 February 1999)

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Rwandan refugee involvement confirmed

Rwandans in Congo-Brazzaville have become involved in the latest fighting in the country, UNHCR said in its latest Great Lakes update, issued on Friday. It said a recent visit by UNHCR personnel to the Kintele refugee camp near Brazzaville confirmed that there were virtually no adult males left in the camp, whose remaining occupants said several hundred men had been armed and deployed by the Congolese armed forces. UNHCR also said about 300-400 Rwandans had left sites at Njoundou and Loukolela in northern Congo to join the fighting.

The Congo-Brazzaville camps housed an estimated 11,000 Rwandan refugees who arrived mainly in May 1997. In early November 1998, UNHCR expressed concern that "significant numbers" of Rwandan men had left the camps in Congo-Brazzaville for the DRC.

Refugee programme to end

With the intensification of the war and the militarisation of the refugee sites, UNHCR has been moving to phase out its assistance to Rwandans in Congo, the report said. Plans are being drawn up to transfer all Rwandan women, children and others who have not taken up arms to a single site where UNHCR will provide them with a one-time assistance package before ending its programme. Approximately 2,500 refugees remain in northern Congo, the report added.

DRC: Deaths reported among Angolan refugees

The mortality rate among Angolan refugees in Kisenge, Kasai Oriental province, is rising with two deaths now being reported every day, UNHCR said in its latest update on the Great Lakes region. A UNHCR mission that travelled to the area on 31 January found that the number of people hospitalised for malnutrition had increased drastically, the report said. There are some 40,000 Angolan refugees in Kisenge, most of whom arrived in mid-1998 with the outbreak of fresh hostilities between UNITA and the Angolan army. UNHCR made two emergency food purchases for the refugees last year and seasonal work had provided refugees with some income. However, current rains have eliminated that work and no regular supply of food for the refugees has been established to date, the report said. At UNHCR's request, MSF has established therapeutic and supplementary feeding facilities at the site, it added.

UNITED NATIONS: Security Council condemns violence against civilians

The UN Security Council on Friday condemned the deliberate targeting of civilians in armed conflicts, calling for an end to such violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. In a presidential statement, the Council called on states to take action against such abuses. It also stated its willingness to respond to situations in which civilians have been thus targetted or humanitarian assistance to them deliberately obstructed. The Council also asked the Secretary-General to report by September on ways to improve the physical and legal protection of civilians.

RWANDA: Two sentenced to death for genocide

Two genocide suspects were Thursday sentenced to death by a criminal court in Rushashi, Rwanda, according to the Rwandan News Agency (RNA). The agency quoted state-run Radio Rwanda as reporting on Friday that the court sentenced five others to life imprisonment while 17 were given jail terms ranging from two to seven years. The court released six other suspects but ordered two of them to pay for cattle they butchered that had belonged to Tutsi victims. Over 125,000 genocide suspects are awaiting trial in Rwandan prisons, according to RNA.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Assab front opens, casualty figures released

A new front opened in the Ethiopia-Eritrea war at the weekend, with shelling breaking out near Bure, southwest of the Eritrean Red Sea port of Assab. Ethiopia claimed the destruction of two tanks and a water storage facility in its assault, which included air attacks. Eritrea shot down an Ethiopian helicopter. Ethiopia has claimed that 7,000 Eritrean soldiers have been killed or wounded since the border war resumed this month, while Eritrea announced on 11 February that its forces had so far killed 1,500 Ethiopian troops and wounded 3,000.

SUDAN: Opposition calls for constitution founded on diversity

Sudanese opposition groups called on Friday for the formulation of a constitution founded on cultural and religious diversity and the devolution of power from the central government. In a communique issued at the end of a meeting in Kampala, they also advocated freedom of expression, independence of the judiciary, women's rights, gender sensitivity, and the right to self determination. "We do not expect the current government to implement this communique. It is a programme for the transitional government after the overthrow of the present regime," SPLA spokesperson John Luc told IRIN today (Monday).

However, another SPLA member, Peter Adwok, said the practicability of parts of the communique was questionable. "Most representatives at the conference are struggling for power," he said. "They can promise anything, the problem is exactly how they plan to implement touchy issues like self-determination or even the rights of women." Adwok cautioned that the document could become another blueprint never to be implemented by future governments. "Anything can happen," he said, "but we have to be positive as the struggle continues."

UGANDA: Four killed in Kampala bomb blasts

Two bombs exploded in a nightclub and a restaurant in Kampala late yesterday (Sunday), killing four people and injuring 21 others. Three Ugandans and an Ethiopian were killed, while the wounded included three foreigners, AFP said. The club and restaurant, in the Kabalagala district, were full of people celebrating Valentine's Day when the bombs exploded five minutes apart from each other, it said. No group had yet claimed responsibility for the attack, AFP cited a police spokesman as saying today. A series of bomb and grenade attacks in the capital in 1997 and 1998 left at least 13 people dead, AFP said, adding that the government at the time blamed the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

TANZANIA: Food security concerns

Tanzania is the East African nation hardest hit by the failure of the short rains, according to a bulletin from the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS), which said the February/March harvest was expected to be 80-90 percent below average in all bimodal regions except Kagera. The failure of this season's crops will cause hardship for many households and the situation could worsen if the upcoming long-rains harvest is poor, FEWS said. Tanzania's government plans to import 50,000 mt of maize for the country's strategic grain reserve and has asked donors to support vulnerable populations with relief food and food-for-work amounting to 166,000 mt of cereals.

Meanwhile, an FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission to Tanzania said in a special report received today by IRIN that, should the next harvest - due in May - fail, "the food situation is likely to deteriorate significantly". According to the mission, food assistance will be sought for about one million people.

Nairobi, 15 February 1998, 17:00 GMT


Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 20:07:27 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 609 for 13-15 Feb 1999.2.15

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar,