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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-CEA Update No. 704 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 30 June 1999)
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Fighting brings fresh displacement
Renewed heavy fighting has been reported in parts of South Kivu and Katanga provinces since 23 June, resulting in new displacement of civilians, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Wednesday. Hostilities in the Boko, Kabamba and Kitoke areas were said to involve forces of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), local Mayi-Mayi militia and Burundian FDD rebels, the sources reported. Some 7,000 newly-displaced people were reported in the Uvira, Kiliba and Lulingu areas of the Ruzizi plain, while over 8,000 people who fled recent fighting in Manono were reported to have arrived in the Malemba-Nkulu area of Katanga. Some residents of Malemba-Nkulu and Kinkodja were reported to have fled in panic as a result of the influx and were heading towards Lubumbashi, the sources added.
Cholera spreading in east
The epidemiological situation in the DRC continues to deteriorate, the UN Humanitarian Coordination Unit in Kinshasa said in a report received by IRIN on Wednesday. It said a cholera epidemic in Kitshanga, some 72 km north of Goma, had resulted in 11 registered deaths, with a total of 208 cases reported. Another 25 cases were reported in Pinga, 150 km northwest of Goma, between 17 May and 13 June, with a 20 percent mortality rate recorded, it said. The Bunia area of Province Orientale had also been "seriously affected" by cholera since end May, but a military garrison at the centre of the epidemic had so far been inaccessible to humanitarian agencies. Medical kits and chlorine supplies were badly needed in Bunia, where a WHO-sponsored water quality control project was already underway, the report added.
Influx into Bas-Congo increases
The number of refugees crossing into Bas-Congo province from the conflict-affected Pool region of Congo-Brazzaville has increased over the past week, the UN report said. UNHCR reports indicated that an average of 200 people were now arriving per day at the entry point of Gombe-Matadi, most in poor health and nutritional condition, it said. UNHCR was planning to open an additional transit centre near Mbanza-Ngungu a result of the increasing number of arrivals, it added.
Protection of rights workers called for
The human rights body Amnesty International has called on DRC peace negotiators currently in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, to include the protection of human rights workers and defenders on the talks' agenda. In a statement received by IRIN on Wednesday, Amnesty said it was concerned that members of several groups in both eastern and western regions of the country - including the Voix des sans voix (VSV) in Kinshasa and Groupe Jeremie in Bukavu - were "at risk of ill treatment and imprisonment this week" because of their human rights work.
Amnesty asked the regional ministers meeting in Lusaka to urge the DRC government and its armed opponents to prevent the persecution of human rights activists. "There can be no peace in a country where human rights workers cannot carry out their activities on behalf of victims, without fear of being abused themselves. The protection and promotion of human rights including those of human rights defenders must be central to the peace process going on in Lusaka," Amnesty International said.
Fresh obstacle at talks
Meanwhile, the peace talks in Lusaka hit a fresh obstacle on Wednesday as the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila objected to Congolese rebel groups as signatories to a draft ceasefire document because they were not sovereign states, Reuters reported. The talks were continuing, with Zimbabwe - a key ally of Kabila's - having been brought around to pressure him to sign, the report added.
TANZANIA: "Huge" numbers of DRC refugees
UNHCR on Wednesday said conflict in eastern DRC, particularly in South Kivu, had caused "huge numbers" of people to flee into western Tanzania in the last few days. The refugee influx, which started in August 1998, was steadily increasing, with 2,167 new arrivals registered on Tuesday alone, a UNHCR official in Dar es Salaam told IRIN. The new arrivals were generally in good health. The official said UNHCR was "adequately prepared but there is need for additional sites." There are currently some 39,000-40,000 Congolese refugees in Nyarugusu and another 55,000 at a camp at Lugufu, which is now full. The official said UNHCR "should be able to accommodate another 10-15,000 new arrivals in the Nyarugusu camp, or possibly expand it cater for an additional number pending the identification and designation of a third site by the government."
Meanwhile, UNHCR statistics for the month of May received by IRIN on Wednesday showed that Tanzania was hosting a total of 369,177 refugees from Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Somalia.
BURUNDI: WFP, UNICEF support over 200 feeding centres
A recent WFP report received by IRIN said that UNICEF and WFP were providing nutritional assistance to beneficiaries in some 196 supplementary feeding centres, 29 therapeutic feeding centers and nine hospitals in the country. It said that over the past year, WFP had provided UNICEF with an average of 1,400 mt of food per quarter for the nutrition programme, which benefitted a quarterly average of more than 49,500 people.
Burundian journalist Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, head of the 'Net Press' news agency, was released on Tuesday after a 12-day detention for what Burundian authorities termed "endangering Burundian institutions," Net Press said.
GREAT LAKES: Deteriorating living conditions linked to war
Living conditions in Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC deteriorated significantly during 1998, the Bujumbura-based human rights group Ligue des droits de la personne dans la region des Grands Lacs (LDGL) said in its annual report. In a statement received by IRIN on Wednesday, the group said poverty levels in the three countries had risen while access to health care, education and employment had become increasingly difficult. The deterioration was due mainly to the spread of the region's ethnic-based armed conflicts between government forces and armed groups, which were linked in "a network of alliances and counter-alliances," the statement said.
The region's conflicts had also brought systematic massacres of civilians, looting and population displacement, the statement said. The death penalty continued to be applied in the three countries, detention conditions remained precarious and the use of torture was widespread, it added.
UGANDA: WFP launches new development initiative
WFP on Tuesday said it had signed a US$ 30 million five-year development package with the Ugandan government to provide the country's rural poor with productive assets and incomes and to strengthen their ability to cope with man-made and natural calamities. A WFP statement received by IRIN said the programme would run parallel with WFP's relief and recovery operations in the northern and western parts of the country. It will support agricultural production and marketing, primary education and vocational training of orphans and street children. "Like all humanitarian agencies, WFP wants to work itself out of a job. The best way to achieve this is to help people harness the skills they have developed for their day-to-day survival," WFP's Deputy Country Director Michael Jones said in the statement.
The programme will have the twin benefit of "promoting employment while psychologically encouraging reconciliation" in these volatile areas. Jones said that by investing a few shillings today in training, employment and infrastructure, WFP and other agencies could avoid the need for prolonged relief assistance and save ten times as much money and hardship tomorrow.
Over 100 Congolese "vigilantes" trained
More than 100 Congolese "vigilantes" and their Ugandan counterparts on Saturday completed a four-month political and military science course in Kasese, the independent 'Monitor' newspaper reported. The vigilantes will monitor the DRC-Uganda border, it said. The paper quoted Ugandan authorities as saying the initiative was a means of maintaining security along the border of both countries.
Nairobi, 30 June 1999, 15:30 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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