IRIN-CEA Update No. 741 [19990824]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 741 [19990824]

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. 741 for Central and Eastern Africa (Monday 23 August 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels reportedly ready to sign Lusaka accord

Rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) were on Monday reported to be ready to sign up to the Lusaka ceasefire agreement under a complicated arrangement aimed at overcoming the sticking point of whether the RCD-Goma or RCD-Kisangani factions, or both, would represent the movement. Political sources contacted by IRIN on Monday said that after renewed talks at the weekend between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan Vice-President Paul Kagame, and a meeting between both men and South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Zuma, the indications from Kampala were that there would be 51 RCD signatories, comprising the general assemblies of both RCD factions. The signing was virtually confirmed and would take place soon - if not perhaps as early as Monday, as rumoured, IRIN sources added.

Regional observers were sceptical about the arrangement, not only because it was so cumbersome in itself but also because it raised so many issues in terms of how to manage military aspects of implementation, representation at negotiations and the make-up of the Joint Military Command (JMC) mandated with supervising the ceasefire. It might be that Museveni and Kagame had agreed between themselves such issues as the designates to the JMC, but could also be that they had been pressured into securing the rebels' signatures and left the modalities to later diplomatic initiatives, IRIN sources suggested. In that event, implementation was set to be at least as difficult as the fraught process of securing the signatures, they added.

Kisangani faction says Wamba will sign

RCD-Kisangani leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba has travelled to Lusaka to sign the ceasefire accord, a press release from the faction stated. Wamba was also stated to be concerned that "Goma and Kigali might launch another violent offensive" in Kisangani before the accord could be signed, and urged regional leaders and the international community to see that last Tuesday's ceasefire was respected.

RCD-Goma hints at signature "by the end of the month"

Tamba Wamba, political spokesman for the RCD-Goma faction, said on Saturday it was fully committed to the Lusaka agreement and that he believed the group would sign the accord "by the end of this month", Gabonese radio reported. RCD-Goma would sign when the obstacle concerning Wamba dia Wamba's signature had been removed, and the situation was "heading towards the removal of this obstacle", he added.

Kinshasa rejects Bizimungu talks offer

The DRC government has confirmed receiving an invitation from Rwanda to talks in Kigali, but said it would not attend until Rwanda had withdrawn its forces from Congolese territory. Foreign Minister Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi told Congolese television that Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu had extended the invitation to him during a lengthy discussion at last week's Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Mozambique. He said he would have no difficulty going there if requested to do so by DRC President Laurent Desire Kabila and if it was for "the cause of peace and withdrawal", but that it could not happen while Rwandan forces occupied parts of Congo.

Twenty five countries pledge officers for UN liaison mission

The military liaison officers needed for the UN team to be deployed to support the Lusaka peace accord have been pledged by 25 countries, Assistant Secretary-General for Peace-Keeping Operations Hedi Annabi said on Friday. The UN deployment of up to 90 military and civilian observers, for up to 3 months initially, will be of four types: deployment to capital cities in the area, but initially Kinshasa, Kigali and Kampala; to the Joint Military Commission; to the rear military headquarters of the belligerents as security permits; and to other locations within DRC as appropriate, according to IRIN sources.

A budget has been proposed for the preliminary deployment of 90 observers, including 11 humanitarian affairs officers, with special attention being paid to human rights, child soldiers and other humanitarian issues considered crucial to the viability of any peace established, according to IRIN sources. Humanitarian officers would be deployed to Kinshasa, Lusaka, Kigali, Kampala, Bujumbura and key locations within the DRC, they said, adding that the budget proposal included a humanitarian emergency fund of US$ 500,000.

WHO "amazed at turnout" for vaccination campaign

WHO and UNICEF reported that 8.2 million polio vaccinations were carried out by over 75,000 volunteer vaccinators during last week's mass vaccination against the polio virus, and the figure should be closer to 9 million once complete data were available, officials said. Some 10 million children under the age of five had been targeted. "We have been amazed at the turnout. Mothers in every village have brought their children ... often walking several kilometres with their infants on their backs to get this precious vaccine", a WHO press release stated. DRC, with the most intense virus transmission in the world, was the single biggest priority for the global effort to eradicate polio, it added.

"Catch-up" campaign scheduled for Kisangani

In Kisangani, 70 percent were reported to have been vaccinated, despite the outbreak of fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces, while mothers and children earlier trapped in vaccination clinics by the fighting had managed to return home, WHO reported, adding that an extra "catch-up" campaign targeting those children not yet reached was scheduled.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: $7 million ECHO pledge eases food gap

Humanitarian sources have informed IRIN that the UN's country representative no longer sees any "food gap" in the country after WFP received a pledge from the European Community Humanitarian Officer (ECHO) for US $7 million worth of food. This represented half of the overall requirement of US $14 million outlined in the consolidated appeal. The food will assist some 200,000 people and should be sufficient until the end of the year. Meanwhile, in the southwest areas of Nkaye and Dolisie, the humanitarian community working with the government are preparing to set up humanitarian operations to assist returnees. An OCHA mission to the areas three weeks ago confirmed that local administrations still needed to be established in both towns. Some 10,000 of a total population of 80,000 people in Dolisie have returned so far. In Nkaye, roughly 30,000 of a population of 60,000 people have reportedly returned.

Fighters reported moving through Loukolela

UNHCR and humanitarian workers on the ground on Friday reported new movement of fighters along the border between the northern Republic of Congo and DRC. They reported groups of Congolese and Rwandan armed men passing through Loukolela, Republic of Congo, in recent weeks but said there had been no security incidents at the camp, set up in 1997, where approximately 2,600 Rwandan refugees remain. In all, between 5,000 and 7,000 Rwandans remain in Republic of Congo, a UNHCR report added. The agency would this week carry out a second mission further north to Impfondo, to determine if civilians were crossing over from Equateur province, DRC, it said, adding that an initial assessment two weeks ago had turned up no civilian arrivals.

TANZANIA: Number of separated children in camps drops drastically

Humanitarian sources have recorded a "drastic drop" in the number of separated children in all camps in Kigoma region, western Tanzania. Statistics from UNHCR show that in March 1999 the number of Unaccompanied Minors (UAMs) registered was 2,248 and the number of Accompanied Minors (AMs) was 9,185, giving a total of 11,433. As of 13 August, the number of UAMs registered in all the camps was 1,938 and the number of AMs 6,932, giving a total of 8,870. The agency cited successful reunification between and within camps, repatriation countries of origin following successful tracing, voluntary repatriation - mainly with foster families - and children growing past minor status as reasons for the change. In a report received by IRIN, it said some 134 children had been reunified with their parents between March and August.

RWANDA: New law establishes national police force

Parliament on Friday adopted a law allowing the merger of the gendarmerie, communal police and judicial police into a single police force, such as Rwanda has never had, in order to improve the general organisation and competency of civil security operations. The move was intended to assure clear policy-making, management of human and capital resources, a proper mechanism for fighting crime and respect for the rights of Rwandans, a parliamentary statement released to Rwandan radio stated.

Parliament calls Rwigema to account

Rwandan parliamentarians have started a process by which they hope to summon Prime Minister Pierre Celestin Rwigema and other cabinet members to clarify the failure to resolve the situation of old case-load refugees and the programme of the government during the additional four-year transitional period. The Minister of Education, Emmanuel Mudidi, has also been summoned to explain the mismanagement of a World Bank project to reconstruct and rehabilitate schools, RNA reported.

Court considers legality of bishop's detention on genocide charges

The trial of Bishop Augustin Misago, Gikongoro Diocese, on genocide-related charges was on Friday deferred to Wednesday, 25 August, for the court to rule on legal argument between the prosecution and defence as to whether the defendant's arrest and detention had been legal. Misago earlier complained of not having been given sufficient time to read and understand his 300-page case file, and requested a two-week delay. The 56-year-old cleric was charged before a court packed with church and civilian observers on five counts, including genocide, crimes against humanity, violation of human rights, conspiracy to commit genocide and complicity in genocide, Rwandan radio reported.

Nairobi, 23 August 1999, 15:00 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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