IRIN Update 638 for 3/26/99

IRIN Update 638 for 3/26/99

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. 638 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 26 March 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Garreton condemns upsurge of violence

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the DRC, Roberto Garreton, has condemned the upsurge of violence in the Kivus. In a statement issued in Geneva yesterday (Thursday), he urged all sides fighting in the area to respect international humanitarian law and spare civilian victims. According to the statement, he condemned specifically the killing of 70 people, reportedly by the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) in Rutshuru last month. Garreton also expressed concern over a reported massacre near Bukavu between 19 and 21 March, in which 250 people were allegedly killed.

The killings were first reported by the Missionary News Agency, MISNA, which claimed they were perpetrated by Rwandan and RCD forces in retaliation for Mayi-Mayi attacks in the villages of Burhinyi and Ngweshe. The report said however that 200 bodies had "already been buried". It made no mention of casualties sustained during the Mayi-Mayi attack and there has been no independent confirmation of the report.

RCD denies killings

The RCD meanwhile denied carrying out the killings. Its vice-president Moise Nyarugabo told Reuters rebel troops were continuously conducting operations to track down Mayi-Mayi fighters and some had been killed over the weekend. "The problem is that when we kill the Mayi-Mayi, they become civilians. But it's not true, they are killers," he said. He also denied a Reuters report earlier this week which alleged 100 people were killed in Magunga, near Baraka.

Clashes reported in Makobola

Humanitarian sources in Uvira told IRIN today (Friday) RCD soldiers and Mayi-Mayi fighters clashed in the mountains around Makobola on Wednesday. Three RCD soldiers were reportedly killed and three more were wounded, who arrived in Uvira for treatment. Meanwhile, people are reported to be fleeing fighting between the two sides in the Fizi area, where reconciliation meetings between the traditionally hostile Babembe and Banyamulenge are said to be taking place.

Soldiers arrested after Kinshasa shooting incident

DRC security forces arrested 76 soldiers after a shooting incident this week at a military camp near Kinshasa's international airport, Reuters reported, citing state television. According to the television report, the incident was sparked by "jealousy" among rival groups of soldiers. The 75 soldiers and their battalion commander are due to appear before a military tribunal. News agencies described Tuesday's incident as an attempted mutiny by soldiers who did not want to go the war front.

Security initiative for Uganda/DRC border

Uganda and North Kivu province are to launch joint political and security mobilisation programmes on their common border in a bid to improve security, Ugandan radio reported today. North Kivu governor Leonard Kanyanungu Gafundi stressed the urgent need to sensitise border residents so as to flush out bandits in the area, the radio said.

Measles outbreak in Katana

Some 1,400 children have died of measles in the Katana health zone of South Kivu over the past year, a recent NGO survey has found. The survey, conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) between 10-12 March, revealed that the vaccination coverage rate in the area was "less than ideal". An earlier IRC survey had found that 20 percent of child deaths in the area was attributable to measles. IRC estimates that some 45,000 of the estimated 56,200 children under five years old in the Katana zone need to be immunised against the disease.

RWANDA: Society threatened by alarming HIV rate

AIDS is threatening some 600,000 individuals in Rwanda, excluding children under 12 and new-born babies, according to an International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) report. More than 11 percent of the adult population is infected with HIV nationwide, "a dramatic increase compared to less than two percent in 1986", it said. Recent reports from Rwanda's ministry of health indicated that a third of people between the ages of 25 and 44 tested for the HIV virus in Kigali were seropositive, prompting Red Cross workers to stop collecting blood in the capital. The rural infection rate for people between 20 and 44 has also increased ten-fold over a decade, rising from 1.3 percent in 1986 to 10.8 percent in 1997.

The ministry of health reports that while the number of AIDS orphans is nearing 100,000, the workforce is being seriously debilitated. Against the backdrop of endemic poverty and post-genocide trauma, "an epidemic could hasten the disintegration of Rwandan social fabric", the Federation report warned.

BURUNDI: Bujumbura "unworkable" as peace talks venue - Nyerere

The push by the Burundi government to have the venue of the peace talks moved from Arusha to Bujumbura has been dismissed as "unworkable" by mediator, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere. In an interview with the 'EastAfrican' weekly, Nyerere said it was not advisable to hold such "sensitive" talks in Bujumbura since some parties had expressed security fears about returning to Burundi before a settlement was reached. Although he agreed that the problem should eventually be discussed in Burundi, currently the internal situation was not "conducive enough" to bring about peace.

Bujumbura, for its part, maintained that relocating the talks to the capital would ensure more citizen participation. "I cannot take a position here in Arusha without being sure that I am being understood at home," Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba told the weekly. "Peace will be built in Burundi, where Barundi [the people of Burundi] can follow and influence the negotiations." He said his country was peaceful enough for everybody to air their views and such an internal debate was already under way. He said his government did not agree with Nyerere's methods. "It is not necessary to have a consensus on every small issue. This is why discussions are getting stuck," he said.

Nairobi, 26 March 1999, 15:00 gmt


Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 18:07:43 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA: IRIN Update 638 for 26 March

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

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