IRIN-CEA Update 728 for 4 Aug [19990804]

IRIN-CEA Update 728 for 4 Aug [19990804]

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. 728 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 4 Aug 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kisangani "politically volatile"

Humanitarian sources say the political situation in Kisangani is very volatile, although overall security in Province Orientale has improved slightly. Four parties are now represented in the province - the RCD-Kisangani, RCD-Goma, the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) of Jean-Pierre Bemba and the newly-formed Mouvement pour la securite, la paix et le developpement (MSPD) of Willy Mishiki, erstwhile aide to Ernest Wamba dia Wamba of RCD-Kisangani. According to the local population, Wamba is gaining popularity for two main reasons: "his anti-Tutsi campaign and his support for the Lusaka peace process". The province however is becoming increasingly isolated. River traffic from Kinshasa has stopped, it is impossible to drive from Goma and supplies brought in by plane from Uganda are too costly for most people, many of whom are now only taking one meal a day. The nutritional quality of their food has reduced drastically.

Security problems in North Kivu

North Kivu meanwhile has experienced some security problems, after a military vehicle reportedly came under attack by Interahamwe militia in the Virunga national park on the Goma-Rutshuru-Kanyabayonga road. Sources in touch with the region also said 15 people were killed when a convoy of vehicles was ambushed along the Sake-Mweso road, possibly by the Interahamwe. Local observers say there is disappointment in Goma over the RCD's refusal to sign the Lusaka accord.

Possible cure for Ebola

Laboratory tests have identified a plant which could halt the spread of the Ebola virus, the BBC reported on Tuesday. It quoted scientists as saying a compound from the garcinia kola plant, commonly found in west Africa, had proved effective against the virus as well as against some strains of influenza. The discovery was announced at the 16th International Botanical Congress in the US, the BBC said. If the compound proves successful in animal and human trials, it will be the first medicine to successfully treat Ebola.

Civil servants striking

Civil servants in Kinshasa went on strike Tuesday over pay issues, news reports said. Nine trade union officials were arrested during a demonstration calling for the removal of Finance Minister Mawampanga Mwana Nanga who is accused by civil servants of blocking their demand for increased salaries.

BURUNDI: 10 rebels killed in clashes

The Burundian army says 10 rebels were killed in clashes near the capital Bujumbura on Monday, news organisations reported. Five soldiers were also reported dead. The latest fighting took place in the hills of Mubimbi commune, Bujumbura Rurale province. Fighting has escalated amid wrangling over which rebel groups should be included in the Arusha peace process.

TANZANIA: Countries hosting refugees get inadequate aid, minister says

Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete has complained that countries hosting refugees do not receive enough assistance. Tanzanian radio quoted him as saying the current levels of aid were insufficient to offset costs and losses incurred by the host countries. "Due to meagre aid given, refugees live in misery, while the host countries suffer and are blamed for the unjust treatment of refugees," he said. He urged the international community to encourage good governance in the refugees' countries of origin.

UGANDA: Karamoja drought alert

The Action by Churches Together network (ACT) on Friday issued a drought emergency alert for Uganda's northeastern Karamoja district. Some 250,000 people are affected by the drought, ACT said in a statement. "It is estimated that only 10 percent of the last year's harvest will be obtained this year," ACT said. An analysis of marketing data collected by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a member of ACT, revealed a rise in cereal prices by almost 100 percent in the last six weeks. In some trading centres, field staff report that cereals are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain as traders resort to hoarding "with the view of making inflated profits as prices rise". "With the expected crop failure or poor harvest, cereal prices are expected to rise until this time next year or until such a time that food relief is distributed," ACT said.

Reports from the districts also indicate an increased movement of households from the drought-stricken areas to Moroto town in search of casual labour. "The majority of people facing food shortages are the vulnerable groups and this includes women, children, the elderly, the disabled and the poor," ACT added. It further said that discussions between the church organisations and WFP noted that food stocks in the country were low thus making it difficult to supply drought relief before the early part of next year at the earliest. "By that time, the situation will be terrible as many will be unable to purchase food for their families," the statement warned.

Nairobi, 4 August 1999, 14:00 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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