IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 24 1999 [19990618]

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 24 1999 [19990618]

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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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 24 covering the period 12-18 June

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Ceasefire agreement "expected"

The government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila and the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) will be the only two Congolese signatories to a peace agreement expected to be signed at a heads of state summit next week, chief SADC mediator and Zambian President Frederick Chiluba said on Thursday at the end of a meeting in South Africa on the DRC conflict attended by regional leaders. The summit is now scheduled for 26 June in the Zambian capital, Lusaka.

Foreign ministers to prepare ground for summit

The presidents of South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda agreed at Thursday's meeting that the foreign ministers involved in the DRC peace process would meet in Lusaka on Monday to prepare the ground for the summit and ensure it actually produced a result, news agencies reported on Friday. Representatives of the three rebel factions - RCD-Goma, RCD-Kisangani and the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) - did not participate directly in Thursday's meeting but were regularly consulted, news agencies said.

Mugabe sees end to conflict

Kabila's chief SADC military ally, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, told reporters in South Africa on Tuesday that he expected the conflict would end before the end of the year. "I think all of us have learnt our lesson in the Congo," Reuters quoted him as saying. Meanwhile, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo was quoted by news agencies as saying on Wednesday that his country could provide peacekeepers for the DRC under the "right conditions."

Rebel factions agree to "present a united front"

The three Congolese rebel factions have agreed in principle to "harmonise their differences and present a united front" at the Lusaka peace talks. "The differences we have are small, but our ultimate goal is the same,"

RCD-Goma's Bizima Karaha told IRIN on Monday during a reconciliation meeting in Kabale, western Uganda.

On Tuesday, the rebels spelled out conditions for agreeing to a cease-fire, news agencies said. The conditions are that Kabila stops bombing rebel-held towns, frees political prisoners, allows political parties to operate freely, disarms Kinshasa-allied rebels from Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, and stops attacks on ethnic Tutsis in the Congo, agencies reported.

Rebel split affecting Kisangani population

The "political and military confusion" prevailing in Kisangani as a result of the split in the rebel movement last month has raised tensions and insecurity in the town, a report by the Kisangani-based Groupe Justice et Liberation (GLC) said. The report, received by IRIN on Wednesday, said the presence in Kisangani of both the RCD-Goma and RCD-Kisangani factions had divided the city, prompted fresh attempts at inciting ethnic hatred and led to increased arrests and intimidation of people on the basis of their political opinions.

St. Egidio and Francophonie facilitate debate preparations

Officials from the Roman Catholic St. Egidio Community and the Francophonie organisation said in Kinshasa on Monday that they planned on setting up an all-inclusive committee to organise the proposed Congolese national debate, news agencies reported. "The facilitators will continue their efforts to smooth the difficulties faced and to give every chance for the inter-Congolese debate to take place," the statement said.

Over 100 Chadians died

Chad's Defense Minister Oumar Kadjallami said on Wednesday that 105 Chadian soldiers had died during the country's military intervention in the DRC, AFP reported. Chad sent a total of 2,227 soldiers in September in support of President Laurent-Desire Kabila's forces, Kadjallami said. The Chadian troops were withdrawn last month.

Thousands displaced in Lusambo

Some 30,000 residents of Lusambo town in Kasai Oriental province fled into surrounding forests due to fighting between rebels and Kinshasa-allied forces earlier this month, journalists flown to the town from Kigali reported on Wednesday. Less than 10,000 displaced people had returned to Lusambo since it was captured by the rebels on 7 June, the PANA news agency said. AFP reported heavy looting of homes and health facilities, and residents said government soldiers had raped women.

Truce needed to immunise children, IASC says

There is an urgent need to organise "days of tranquility" in the DRC to prevent the failure of global polio eradication efforts, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) said. In a statement received by IRIN on Tuesday, the high-level humanitarian policy-setting body said that if the disease were not soon eradicated from the DRC and other polio-endemic countries at war, "there is a risk that the global polio eradication initiative will fail, leading both to a resurgence of the disease and the loss of the billions of dollars invested so far." Meanwhile, a regional WHO spokesperson told IRIN on Tuesday that the first round of DRC polio vaccinations had been scheduled for 13-15 August.

DRC/BURUNDI: UNHCR repatriates Burundian refugees

UNHCR on Wednesday repatriated 107 Burundian refugees from the DRC to Bujumbura, and additional repatriations are planned for the coming days. In a statement received by IRIN, UNHCR said some 20,000 Burundian refugees were believed to be living in villages across the DRC. In a trial repatriation on 30 May, seven Burundian refugees were repatriated from Mbuji-Mayi on a UNHCR-chartered aircraft.

BURUNDI: PALIPEHUTU denies links with FDD

Burundi's rebel group, PALIPEHUTU, has denied having any links with another rebel movement, the CNDD-FDD faction. In a press statement, received on Monday by IRIN, it said its armed wing, the Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), was not fighting alongside the Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD). "There are no negotiations or collaborations between PALIPEHUTU and CNDD-FDD," the statement stressed. PALIPEHUTU also announced the formation of a "single liberation movement", the Forces de liberation nationale (FALINA).

Red Cross to supply 125,000 with household basics

Some 125,000 people are to benefit over the next three months from the distribution of food and household goods such as soap, blankets and jerrycans as part of a Red Cross rehabilitation programme, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

said on Wednesday.

RWANDA: Rwanda denies Chad holding its war prisoners

The Rwandan government has denied Chadian claims that it was detaining Rwandan prisoners of war captured in the DRC. "There is no single Rwandan soldier held by Chad," an official from the Rwandan Defence Ministry told the Rwanda News Agency (RNA). Chad last week said it was holding 119 prisoners of war captured in the DRC, including 27 Ugandans and a dozen Rwandans.

Prosecutors seek life sentence for former militia leader

Prosecutors at the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday asked for the maximum life sentence for genocide suspect and former Interahamwe vice-president Georges Rutaganda during closing arguments in the two-year trial, the independent Hirondelle news agency said. Rutaganda's defence counsel on Thursday told the court he was "truly innocent" of the charges.

Ntuyahaga extradition case adjourned

Genocide suspect Bernard Ntuyahaga, who is facing extradition from Tanzania to Rwanda, on Tuesday asked a Tanzanian court to allow a Belgian lawyer to defend him, news agencies reported. The case was adjourned to 29 June.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, David Scheffer, said the US Justice Department was making "vigorous efforts" to secure the extradition from a Texas detention centre of another genocide suspect, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, according to an ICTR statement received by IRIN on Tuesday.

Sentencing in Rwandan courts

A man convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a Nyamata court, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported on Wednesday. Eighteen others received sentences of between seven and 20 years while 31 suspects were released from detention. Meanwhile, a Butare court on 11 June sentenced Nsanzurugo Patrice and his son, Segatasha Daniel, to death after finding them guilty of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

Over 100 held after police round-up

About 110 people were still being held after a police swoop on Kigali and its environs on Sunday in a bid to fight crime, according to Rwandan interior minister, Abdul-Karim Harerimana. The BBC reported on Monday that between 400 and 500 people were arrested with most of the suspects later released.

WFP facing cereal shortage

WFP is facing a shortage of cereal rations and intends to prioritise distribution to Ndusu, Gatonde, Cyabingo and Nyarotovu communes, according to a report received by IRIN. "Attempts will be made to continue providing full rations to people in those areas. Half-rations will be distributed in Nyamugali and Nyamutera," WFP-Kigali said.

GREAT LAKES: Amnesty reports widespread rights abuses

Amnesty International on Wednesday drew attention in its 1999 annual report to the enormous human cost of conflict in the Great Lakes region which, it said, "continued to be the theatre of widespread human rights abuses" throughout last year. The regionalisation of the conflict in the DRC, together with massive population displacement and the "privatisation of the use of violence" by rebel groups, meant "it is difficult to see any improvement in the situation in the near future", Amnesty's regional representative for the Great Lakes, Patrice Vahard, told IRIN on Thursday.

TANZANIA: One million AIDS orphans by 2000

Tanzania will have up to one million children orphaned by AIDS by the year 2000, government estimates and UNICEF information indicate. UNICEF spokesman Robert Tyabji said the agency had initiated "orphan care" projects in 55 districts under its Child Survival Protection and Development Programme.

Dodoma area faces food shortages

The initial findings a joint FAO/WFP team suggest that some areas in Dodoma will face food shortages after the harvest in July because of rain shortages during crop ripening, a WFP report has stated. Meanwhile, over 17,000 Congolese refugees have crossed into Kigoma since the bombings of Goma and Uvira last month.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Army claims progress in securing rail line

Government troops have captured the railway station at Kibossi, about 50 km west of Brazzaville, in their continuing efforts to clear rebels from the rail line linking the capital with the port city of Pointe-Noire, according to an army spokesman quoted by the BBC on Wednesday. Traffic along the vital rail line has been disrupted due to insecurity over the past six months.

France hands over alleged assassination plotters

The French embassy in Brazzaville on 11 June handed over to the authorities three Croatian, Italian and French mercenaries who sought refuge there last week after escaping from prison, AFP reported. The three had been picked up two months ago and charged with plotting to kill President Denis Sassou-Nguesso.

EU donates emergency aid for displaced

The European Union on Saturday announced a humanitarian aid donation of US$ 5.2 million to help feed people displaced by conflict in the Congo, news agencies said. Reuters quoted EU representative Frederic Baron as saying the aid would be distributed by WFP.

SUDAN: NDA meeting ends in Asmara

A statement from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) received by IRIN on Wednesday said the leadership council meeting of the Sudan opposition umbrella body the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which ended on Monday in the Eritrean capital Asmara, had agreed on increasing internal pressure on the Sudanese government through popular uprisings, intensifying the armed struggle, and seeking a peaceful solution through negotiation within the framework of Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD).

IDP arrivals put pressure on camps near Ed Daein

The arrival of several hundred internally displaced persons in camps near Ed Daein, South Darfur, has put pressure on camp residents who now have to share food with them, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Wednesday. About 1,960 new arrivals from northern Bahr el Ghazal were recently received at Khor Omer camp.

New OLS southern sector coordinator arrives

OLS on Wednesday announced the arrival of Dr. Sharad Sapra, the new Coordinator and UNICEF/OLS Chief of Operations for the southern sector.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Renewed heavy fighting

Fighting between Ethiopian and Eritrean forces continued this week in a renewed phase of what both parties have described as "heavy fighting" on the Mereb-Setit front near the contested border region of Badme.

"Urgent appeal" launched for war displaced

The Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC) on Tuesday claimed that "58,000 Eritreans have been expelled from Ethiopia while 250,000 Eritreans have been internally displaced, becoming entirely dependent on emergency relief assistance" as a result of the conflict. ERREC has issued an additional "urgent appeal" for US$ 3.1 million to cover "short-term expenses" in relation to receiving and settling deportees.

Hardship causing abnormal migration to urban areas

Migration to low land in search of wage labour has been abnormally high recently in many areas of Ethiopia, with 13,000 people out-migrating in South Tigray and North Welo alone, according to a UN report received by IRIN on Tuesday. With food distribution underway, people were expected to return to those areas, but a grave situation was feared in Hararghe where many destitute people have been moving to urban areas in search of relief assistance, the report warned.

SOMALIA: Multiple factors threaten food security in the south

The food security situation in southern Somalia looks increasingly precarious as a result of erratic rainfall, poor livestock conditions, continuing conflict and the cumulative effect of recurring emergencies, according to a report from the Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU), received by IRIN on Tuesday. "The combination of ... early signals with the possible trends of livestock and trade suggests that the conditions exist for a food crisis to materialise over the coming months," the report stated.

Kismayo reported calm after falling to SNF

The southern port of Kismayo was reported calm on Monday after its seizure from the Somali Democratic Movement (SDM) of Mohamed Said Hirsi ('General Morgan') by the Somali National Front (SNF), with whom Hussein Aideed is allied, media sources said. At least 26 people were killed and another 45 wounded in the 11 June fighting, with civilians accounting for most of the dead and wounded, the sources said.

RRA captures Bur Acaba on drive to Qoroley

The Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) has captured the town of Bur Acaba northwest of Mogadishu in what appeared to be a drive southeast from Baidoa to Qoroley where rebels of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) have set up base, AP news agency reported on Monday.

Nairobi, 18 June 1999, 15:00 gmt


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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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