IRIN-CEA Update 716 for 16 July [19990716]

IRIN-CEA Update 716 for 16 July [19990716]

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. 716 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 16 July 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: OAU to appoint force commander

The OAU was "close" to appointing a commander of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) to oversee the ceasefire in the DRC, the Algerian 'Business Day' quoted South African President Thabo Mbeki as saying. He said the officer would gather together commanders from the six countries involved "within days". "Next on the agenda is the appointment of a facilitator for the internal Congolese political dialogue envisaged in the ceasefire agreement," he said. Mbeki expressed confidence that the talks could bring "democratic elections because Congolese President Laurent Kabila has accepted that he is just one of several participants". The newspaper said Nigeria, Algeria and Egypt were leading contenders to command the JMC.

Nigeria, Ghana pledge peacekeepers

Troop contributions for a peacekeeping force have already been pledged by Nigeria and Ghana, Zimbabwe's presidential spokesman George Charamba told IRIN. A UN funding commitment would enable the mobilisation of an interposing force and its deployment within the four months stipulated in the ceasefire agreement, he added. Charamba said the DRC Lusaka peace accord hinged on the goodwill of the warring parties to honour the accord. "It is not the signing itself that's significant but the political will of the belligerent forces to respect the ceasefire."

Uganda to pull out troops in six months

Ugandan Defence Minister Steven Kavuma said his country's troops would be withdrawn from DRC "within six months from now", the semi-official 'New Vision' reported on Friday. "This will happen after all critical issues agreed upon during the Lusaka peace meeting are effectively implemented," he said.

MLC rebels claim capture of Gemena

Rebels of the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) say they have captured the northern town of Gemena. MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba told Reuters on Thursday his forces captured the town, which is about 1,000 km northeast of Kinshasa, on Wednesday night. "Gemena fell under our control last night. It was a serious fight and out troops are now cleaning the area," he said.

Increase in Kinshasa feeding centre admissions

The number of new admissions in Kinshasa's feeding centres increased slightly in May, confirming a worsening nutritional problem in the city, an FAO food security report said. The report, received by IRIN on Thursday, said a total of 3,157 new cases were reported in Kinshasa's 119 therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres in May, up from 2,924 the previous month and compared to 1,623 new cases reported in May 1998. The increase "could reflect a slow deterioration of household nutritional conditions", it said. The Bureau diocesain des oeuvres medicales (BDOM), the organisation that runs the nutritional centres, has had to fix admission quotas due to lack of resources, which could lead to some children being refused assistance, the report added.

A recent survey in Kinshasa indicated that some 10 percent of children under five years of age suffer from acute malnutrition, up from 7 percent found last year. About 125,000 children in the capital are thus estimated to be acutely malnourished, including 25,000 who are severely malnourished.

Donors respond to food security appeal

Meanwhile, donors have contributed funds for several UN and NGO projects to improve the precarious food security situation in the capital, the FAO report said. The projects include, among others, the provision of support to urban animal husbandry and gardening activities, the strengthening of agricultural production around the city and the provision of food aid to vulnerable groups. Funds contributed amount to about half of the US $6 million requested in a Kinshasa food security appeal launched by the government in April, the report said, adding that the other half has already been pledged by donors.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels sabotage rail bridge

Rebels in Congo Republic have sabotaged a bridge at Kibouende on the railway line linking the capital Brazzaville to the southern port and oil city of Pointe-Noire, Reuters reported, quoting an army spokesman on Friday. The spokesman Colonel Jean-Robert Obargui said the attackers were Ninja rebels loyal to former prime minister Bernard Kolelas. He added that government forces arrived on the scene shortly after the attack and drove away the Ninjas. Reuters said the attack, which occurred on Wednesday, dealt a blow to efforts to reopen the Pointe-Noire rail line closed by rebels for 10 months.

BURUNDI: US drops warning to citizens to leave

The US State Department has dropped its recommendation that US citizens should leave Burundi, Reuters reported. However, it advised potential travellers to the country to postpone their plans. In March, the US urged citizens to leave in the wake of an attack on tourists in southwest Uganda and expressed concern over the activities of extremist groups in the Great Lakes region. The new travel warning issued on Thursday said the security situation remained uncertain and US citizens should consider their own personal safety.

KENYA: UNCHR begins repatriating Ethiopians

UNCHR on Thursday began repatriating over 1,400 Ethiopian refugees from the Dadaab camps of northeastern Kenya to Gode and Jijiga in Ethiopia's Ogaden region. In a statement, received by IRIN, UNHCR said it expected the airlift to continue for several weeks after the repatriation of the first batch of 53 refugees. Many of the refugees had fled the Ogaden war between Somalia and Ethiopia, which broke out in 1977. UNHCR said the airlift marks the last large return movement of long-time Ethiopian refugees from Kenya, which once hosted nearly 100,000 Ethiopian refugees.

EAST AFRICA: Scientists find way of predicting Rift Valley Fever

A team of international scientists has discovered a way of using climate data to predict outbreaks of the mosquito-borne disease, Rift Valley Fever, the BBC reported on Friday. Severe outbreaks occur about every five years, affecting both livestock and people. Epidemics are most common after heavy rains, when the mosquitoes breed rapidly. The BBC quoted the researchers as saying they believed they could predict outbreaks three months in advance using satellite imagery. This would allow time for preventive measures to be taken.

Nairobi, 16 July 1999, 12:30 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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