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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. 708 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 6 July 1999)
BURUNDI: Mediators say peace talks proceeding in Arusha
Burundi peace talks are proceeding in Arusha, contrary to media reports that the Burundi government had sought a delay, mediators from the Nyerere Foundation told IRIN on Tuesday. "We are not aware of any request by the government for the talks to be delayed," Nyerere Foundation official Mark Bomani said. He confirmed the talks began on Monday between the 18 delegations which attended the last round. He said he was hopeful the four negotiating committees would finalise the documents which are to be presented to a plenary session for perusal, "then later the peace deal document can be prepared and signed". "We are hopeful all these will be finalised by the end of the year," he added.
Meanwhile, the World Bank and European Union on Monday outlined the nature of assistance they would give Burundi if a "peace agreement has been reached". Bomani said the two organisations pledged humanitarian and developmental support. The Hirondelle news agency quoted World Bank representatives as urging the negotiators to achieve a peace agreement without delay "if they really need support, as the situation in Burundi is worrying". According to Hirondelle, the European Union announced it would contribute one and a half million euro for the peace process and 48 million euro for social and economic rehabilitation.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Economic hardship forcing children onto streets
USAID has approved a grant of US $1.1 million to SCF-UK to support a street children's project in Kinshasa, a USAID official told IRIN on Tuesday. The two-year project, which began in March, provides assistance to local NGOs and government bodies dealing with street children and also supports community-based prevention initiatives, an SCF-UK official told IRIN. While there has been no visible increase in the number of street children in Kinshasa over the past year, an increase is to be expected if the economic situation continues to deteriorate, she said. "Families don't have food at home" because of high unemployment, inflation and the reduced availability of goods, leading children to fend for themselves on the streets, the official said. The city's street children also include many AIDS orphans, child sex workers and children thrown out of their homes after being accused of "witchcraft," she added.
Disarming Interahamwe under discussion
DRC Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Yerodia has blamed France's Operation Turquoise in 1994 for "bringing Rwandan Hutu militiamen into the Congo". Ways of disarming the Interahamwe remains one of the sticking points to the signing of an accord in Lusaka. In an interview with Gabonese radio, Yerodia said there were "hoodlums among the last batch of refugees" who entered the DRC. "It was France, which carried out Operation Turquoise...an operation which brought a lot of people into Congo, and one could clearly see armed men among them," he said. "Those who brought the armed men should assume their responsibility and organise another Operation Turquoise to take them away."
Rwandan Minister in the President's Office, Patrick Mazimhaka, who is in Lusaka, noted that the Congolese government and rebels had agreed to hold talks on the country's leadership and army. "What remains is the security of countries neighbouring Congo," he told the BBC Kinyarwanda service. He said Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda were looking for ways to arrest and repatriate rebels fighting those countries such as the Interahamwe, Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). "We believe they should return home so as to end the tension existing between us and the Congo," Mazimhaka said.
Lusaka talks continuing
The Lusaka peace talks aimed at bringing the DRC conflict to an end were still continuing on Tuesday, with diplomatic sources reiterating to IRIN the belief that "the parties are close to a resolution but still don't have all the elements in place".
Museveni rejects idea of UN peacekeepers
Meanwhile, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said the UN peacekeeping force proposed in Lusaka would not allay Uganda's concerns about rebel attacks against it from within DRC because they could not relied upon to stay for the long haul. "Which UN troops will stay in these (Ruwenzori) mountains for six months? They will run away like they did in the Rwandese case", Museveni was quoted by the independent 'Monitor' newspaper as saying during a speech in Kasese, western Uganda, on Monday. Museveni added that, to combat attacks by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on western districts of Uganda from bases in the Ruwenzori mountains and DRC, he had established a special mountain force and would open up mountain roads to improve the military's responsiveness.
UGANDA: Deployment of Libyan troops "up to OAU and Security Council"
Sixty two Libyan troops sent to Uganda to take up a proposed peacekeeping mission on the Uganda-DRC border have not yet been deployed and will not be until the Libyan-brokered Sirte accord under which they were sent is ratified or superseded at the ongoing peace talks in Lusaka, the Ugandan authorities have stated. "There is just no way Libyans could be deployed when the belligerents are still hostile to each other. Uganda cannot decide on the deployment of the Libyan troops. It is now upon the OAU and UN Security Council to decide which countries contribute troops to Congo," a top source in the foreign ministry, quoted by 'The New Vision' newspaper on Sunday, commented. The Libyan contingent, sent to Uganda after Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Laurent Desire Kabila signed a peace agreement in Libya on 18 April, have been living for more than a month now in the Windsor Hotel, Entebbe, and Nile Hotel, Kampala.
US releases $38.6 million in annual development aid
The US has signed an agreement with Uganda to provide US $38.6 million in development assistance funds for diverse programmes in agricultural development, environmental conservation, primary education, health, democracy and governance. The grant represents almost half of approximately US $80 million in annual assistance that USAID provides to Uganda - US $30 million in food aid and US $10 million in technical assistance accounting for the remainder - a press release received by IRIN stated.
The US $38.6 million tranche of funding would support USAID's 1997-2001 development strategy in Uganda, which aims to work with government, the private sector and civil society organisations.
Nairobi, 6 July 1999, 14:35 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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