IRIN Update 635 for 3/23/99

IRIN Update 635 for 3/23/99

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. 635 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 23 March 1999)

RWANDA: Annan proposes independent enquiry into genocide

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed an independent enquiry into the genocide of 1994, news organisations reported. In a letter to the Security Council, he said questions continued to surround the actions of the UN before and during the massacres. "It is therefore my intention to set up an independent enquiry into the actions which the United Nations took at that time," he said. Annan was head of the UN's peacekeeping department in 1994 and has been criticised for not responding appropriately.

Reintegration programme extended

UNDP and UNHCR have recently extended the lifespan of the Joint Reintegration Programming Unit (JRPU) for Rwanda through the end of 1999. A UNDP statement said that under the programme, reintegration activities valued at US $21 million were currently under way in the country. The JRPU was set up by the two agencies in 1997 to help ensure a coordinated use of resources for reintegration programmes targeting returnees, genocide survivors and other vulnerable groups throughout the country. A JRPU fact-sheet, received by IRIN, said funds towards the joint programme had been allocated to projects in various sectors, including sustainable livelihoods, construction of health centres, schools, infrastructure rehabilitation and water supply.

UNHCR's 1999 appeal for Rwanda said its outstanding reintegration activity remained the construction of 25,000 new houses and associated latrine facilities, water supplies and logistical support. By the end of 1997, UNHCR had supported the construction and rehabilitation of 73,862 houses in rural areas, it said. UNHCR planned to phase out its reintegration activities by December 1999, the appeal added.

Unmet humanitarian needs in northwest

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by the government and UNFPA in northwest Rwanda's displaced camps in December/January found that 53 percent of the population was under 15 years old and children in charge of households were estimated to be 4.5 percent. Most of the northwest camps have since been dismantled and more than 94 percent of the estimated 508,626 displaced persons have been resettled through the government's grouped settlement programme.

While conditions in the northwest settlements are slightly better than in the camps, the population remains displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance, aid agencies said. In response to the joint UN appeal for the northwest covering the period December-May, donors had contributed about 58 percent of the US $37.9 million requested. Priority outstanding needs were in the areas of health and nutrition, agriculture, and water and sanitation.

Sudan, Interahamwe "crucial element" in Great Lakes conflict

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan leaders have said their main adversaries are Sudan and the Rwandan Interahamwe militia. At a press conference last week, following Museveni's visit to Kigali, the Ugandan president said the "crucial element" in the Great Lakes conflict was "Sudanese terrorism and the Interahamwe". "The conflict in Congo will only end if both the Interahamwe and Sudanese are disarmed from the Congo," he added, according to Rwandan radio.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: SADC pledges support for Kabila

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has reaffirmed support for President Laurent-Desire Kabila, but expressed concern over the continuing destabilisation of the region. In a statement issued yesterday (Monday) in Gaborone, Botswana, the SADC's inter-state defence and security committee expressed its "determination to safeguard the territory of the DRC". It urged Rwanda and Uganda to cease support for the rebels fighting Kabila, and commended the efforts of SADC allied forces who support the DRC president.

Kabila calls for food self-sufficiency

Kabila has announced the creation of a "National Reconstruction Brigade" aimed achieving food self-sufficiency and optimising mineral exploitation. In his first address to the new cabinet, reported by DRC television, he said the only food imports would now be items the DRC could not produce itself. Abandoned farms and plantations would be requisitioned by the state. Kabila also called for establishing a "war economy" where goods - such as tyres, tractors, uniforms - would be manufactured locally.

Rights group concerned over arming of Katangese youth

DRC's leading human rights organisation, l'Association africaine de defense des droits de l'homme (ASADHO) has expressed concern over the mass recruitment of young people in Katanga province by the provincial and military authorities. In a statement, received by IRIN today (Tuesday), ASADHO said weapons were being distributed to people of Katangese origin by Popular Civil Defence units (DCP). According to witness accounts, these paramilitary groups were "terrorising" other citizens of the province. ASADHO recalled that between 1991 and 1993, Katanga - then Shaba - was subjected to the ethnic cleansing of the Kasai people by the-then governor Kyingu wa Kumwanza, currently the DRC ambassador to Kenya. Over 3,000 people were killed and 500,000 displaced at that time. The organisation urged the international community to take note of the dangers posed by the current arming of the civilian Katangese population.


There are signs of a deepening rift in the main opposition party, FRODEBU, after its exiled president Jean Minani ordered the dismissal of secretary-general Augustin Nzojibwami. The move follows last week's expulsion by Nzojibwami of former president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya and three other members, on charges of trying to factionalise the party. However, according to the BBC's Kirundi service, Nzojibwami has refused to comply with the order, saying Minani cannot lead the party from outside.

EU urges successful completion of peace process

The EU has welcomed the ongoing Arusha peace process, while expressing concern over continued violence in Burundi. In a statement, the EU presidency urged both the rebels and security forces to "cease their acts of violence immediately". It noted that EU member states and the European Commission were providing financial support to the peace process and said they would "consider favourably" further financial input. The EU also expressed willingness to assist in Burundi's socio-economic rehabilitation and reconstruction as long as the peace process was successfully concluded.

HUMAN RIGHTS: Amnesty calls for regional approach to Great Lakes

The human rights group, Amnesty International, has urged the newly convened UN Comission on Human Rights to "make human rights and not politics the yardstick of its work". AI's secretary-general Pierre Sane told a news conference yesterday that victims in places such as the Great Lakes region had been let down by "governments' failure to match human rights rhetoric with adequate support for action". "The Commission has a duty to ensure such action is taken," he stressed.

"The Great Lakes region of Africa is treated by the Commission as three separate situations," Sane said. "However the cycle of conflict and gross human rights abuses - and the resulting mass displacements - have become so internationalised that only a regional approach could have any impact". He said human rights field presences should be strengthened in Burundi and DRC, and re-established in Rwanda.

Nairobi, 23 March 1999, 13:35 gmt


Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 16:38:11 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <>k Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 635 for 23 March [19990323]

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

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