IRIN Update 623 for 5 March 1999

IRIN Update 623 for 5 March 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. 623 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 5 March 1999)

GREAT LAKES: US seeks capture of killers

US President Bill Clinton yesterday (Thursday) said his government was determined to bring to justice those responsible for the killings of foreign tourists earlier this week in southwest Uganda's Bwindi National Park. "If this attack was intended as a warning to our nation to stop supporting those in the region seeking reconciliation and justice, those who committed it should understand that we will not be deterred in any way," news agencies quoted Clinton as saying.

At least 600 Ugandan soldiers and an unknown number of Rwandan troops have crossed into the DRC in pursuit of the Rwandan Interahamwe militia said to be responsible for the massacre of the two Americans, four Britons and two New Zealanders as well as four Ugandans, news agencies said. A team of British investigators arrived in Uganda today (Friday) to help hunt down the rebels, news agencies reported. A US FBI team had previously arrived to assist. Reuters quoted a senior Ugandan investigator as saying the US and British teams would work inside Rwanda and Congo as well as in Uganda.

Anti-western messages were left behind by the killers, news agencies reported. Survivors of the massacre said the rebels had singled out British and American nationals and other English-speaking tourists.

The DRC rebel movement Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) accused Congolese President Laurent-Desire Kabila and his supporters in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) of being behind the killings, saying they had trained, rearmed and financed the Interahamwe, Radio Rwanda reported yesterday. DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi, meanwhile, suggested in a statement broadcast by Congolese state television in Kinshasa yesterday that Uganda with the collusion of Rwanda had "let western tourists fall into an ambush" for their own political benefit and to gain western support.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Heavy Interahamwe presence in Rutshuru

A Reuters journalist in the North Kivu town of Rutshuru reported yesterday that the town's residents were living in constant fear of attacks, ambushes, looting and killing sprees by Interahamwe militia, who are hiding in nearby hills and in the forests inside the Virunga National Park. "The Interahamwe are all around us " a traffic policeman was quoted as saying. Local authorities said up to 30 people had been killed on three different roads leading out of Rutshuru over the last two weeks alone, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, the missionary news service, MISNA, said yesterday that 45 people had been murdered in the Kivus during the first two months of the year. Citing anonymous sources, MISNA said there were also a number of civilians captured, mainly during nights, by armed factions of the RCD.

New rebel group reported

A new DRC rebel group this week claimed to have captured the town of Bolobo located 250 km northeast of Kinshasa on the Congo river, news agencies said. The new group, called the Union of Republican Nationalists for Liberation, issued a statement from Brazzaville in the neighbouring Republic of Congo claiming its forces had captured Bolobo on Saturday without any fighting. Earlier this week, AP quoted a spokesman for the new group as saying its military commander was Colonel Jean Imbamba, an officer in the Special Presidential Division of former president Mobutu Sese Seko. There was no independent confirmation of the claim.

WFP transports food by train for Angolan refugees

WFP yesterday dispatched 170 mt of emergency food aid by train from Lubumbashi for some 30,000 Angolan refugees in the Kisenge area of Katanga province. In a statement received by IRIN today, WFP said the food was expected to arrive at three refugee camps around Kisenge in three days and will be sufficient for at least two weeks. UNHCR last week reported that the global malnutrition rate in the Kisenge camps was 24 percent, with 12 percent severe malnutrition.

Up to now, WFP had been unable to start delivery and distribution of food aid to the Kisenge camps because of poor security conditions, a shortage of funds and logistical constraints, the statement said. WFP is purchasing 1,900 mt of food aid from neighbouring Zambia for the refugee operation, the statement said, adding that WFP had appealed for additional donor funding for the operation. WFP is already supplying relief assistance to another 10,000 Angolan refugees in Bandundu and Bas-Congo provinces.

SUDAN: Latest Yei bombing damages NPA hospital

Several buildings of a hospital run by Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) in Yei were extensively damaged on Wednesday evening during an hour-long bombing raid by a Sudanese government war plane, an NPA worker told IRIN today. The attack on SPLA-held Yei, located some 160 km southwest of Juba, damaged the hospital's theatre, maternity wing, pharmacy, laboratory and doctors' offices, NPA's Chat Paul said.

"Thirty-four bombs were dropped. Two fell directly at the hospital. Nobody was killed or injured because they hid in the bunkers," Paul said. The attack came about a week after a similar bombing incident in the town, NPA said. "Yei is very strategic and the government has interests in it," Paul said, adding that it was a connection point to both the DRC and Uganda. The frequent bombing raids on Yei have demoralised humanitarian workers and the local population, and some residents have fled to the bush or crossed into Uganda, he said. The NPA hospital receives about 200-300 patients a day, according to Paul.

UN envoy in Nairobi to discuss support for IGAD

UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast arrived in Nairobi today, the office of the UN Resident Coordinator for Kenya confirmed. Prendergast was scheduled to meet Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi to discuss ways for the international community to support and invigorate peace efforts for the Sudan by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), UN Spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York on Wednesday. Moi is the current chairman of IGAD's standing committee on the Sudan peace talks.

US group calls for referendum

The US Committee for Refugees (USCR) has urged the UN Security Council to take action aimed at enabling southern Sudan to vote within three years on its political independence. "After 15 years of civil war and an estimated 1.9 million war-related deaths - more deaths than in any war since World War Two - it is time to implement the one solution to which all parties of the Sudan conflict agree: hold a binding public referendum of political self-determination for the five million people of southern Sudan," USCR's director Roger Winter said in a statement received by IRIN. "All sides have publicly stated that a referendum is an acceptable solution. So why wait? The time has come for decisive US and UN action to help Sudan move toward the obvious solution," he added.


An OAU team in Asmara today held talks with the Eritrean government to discuss ways of implementing an OAU peace plan, government spokesman Yemane Ghebremeskel told IRIN. "Though the details of the discussions are not out yet, the meeting was a forum for the government to reaffirm its acceptance of the OAU plan and discuss possible ways of implementation," he said. Ghebremeskel said that skirmishes were taking place in the Badme border area. However, Ethiopian government spokesperson Salome Tadesse told IRIN today: "There is no fighting going on I can assure you."

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council yesterday reiterated its demand that Ethiopia and Eritrea secure an immediate ceasefire so as to create conditions to smoothly implement the OAU Framework Agreement. In a press statement, Council members deplored the fact that the hostilities had not been ceased and regretted that Ethiopia still continued its military actions.

AFRICA: UN says violence against women linked to HIV/AIDS

The UN has called for intensified efforts to help women "living in the shadow of violence and AIDS". A report by UNAIDS entitled "HIV/AIDS and violence against women" says domestic violence, rape and other forms of sexual abuse are gross violations of human rights but are also linked to the spread of HIV. Many women and girls are also victims of sexual coercion by male relatives, classmates or neighbours. In Africa, schoolgirls often resort to sex with "sugar daddies" to help pay education fees, the report says. "Coercion can take the form of wanton rape," it adds. In South Africa, for example, roving gangs of young men, many infected with HIV, engage in what they call "catch and rape". Rape has also become a deliberate weapon of war in many conflicts, such as in Central Africa.

The report says in order to survive in a world with AIDS, it is necessary to protect the sexual and reproductive rights of women. While the International Criminal Court now recognises rape and other forms of violence against women as a crime against humanity in times of war, governments urgently need to enforce national laws that criminalise gender violence and abuse. Current resources for HIV prevention are grossly inadequate. The report notes that in 1997, only US $160 million were spent on AIDS prevention in sub-Saharan Africa. "This is completely inadequate to halt the epidemic, let alone help change attitudes among men with regard to prevention, non-violence and women's rights," it says.


The weekly Great Lakes Information Exchange Forum, normally scheduled at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday 10 March, has been rescheduled to Thursday 11 March. The meeting has been rescheduled to facilitate the presence of Olara Otunnu, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. The meeting will permit Mr. Otunnu and the humanitarian community active in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa to meet and discuss the ongoing issue of children in conflict situations and to discuss his recent regional mission. The meeting will commence at 11:30 a.m. at the OCHA compound on United Nations Road, Gigiri.

Nairobi, 5 March 1999, 15:00 GMT


Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 18:19:39 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 623 for 5 March 1999.3.5

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

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