IRIN-CEA Update No. 743 [19990825]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 743 [19990825]

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 Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

IRIN-CEA Update No. 743 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 25 August 1999)

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Thousands "waiting out the fighting" by Gabonese border

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has sent additional staff to Tchibanga in southwestern Gabon and will open a second office in Franceville, to the east, in response to the recent arrival of thousands of refugees from Congo-Brazzaville, the agency's spokesman Kris Janowski said on Tuesday. Janowski said the number of refugees had not grown significantly since the first groups crossed into Gabon in early July, but missions to entry points had been told of "tens of thousands" of Congolese who are "waiting out the fighting" in Congo (Brazzaville) in the dense forest on both sides of the border with Gabon.

The Congolese towns of Mbinda, Mayoko and Mossendjo were reported to be crowded with displaced people escaping battles which began around Brazzaville, while many families are said to have been split up during the flight, he said. UNHCR quoted refugees entering Gabon as saying they had witnessed atrocities against civilians by the militias fighting the national army. Around 10,000 refugees are now grouped on temporary sites or have made their way to Libreville, it said. UNHCR is planning to borrow from its West African stocks to send two freight containers of emergency relief supplies by the end of the month, Janowski said, adding that in addition to UNHCR staff, the NGO Handicap International had sent a humanitarian team to Gabon.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: $65 million programme recommended to UNICEF

The Executive Director of UNICEF, Carol Bellamy, has recommended that the agency's executive board approve some $46,030,000 from general resources, "subject to availability of funds" and a further $19,500,000, subject to the "availability of specific-purpose contributions", to implement a country programme. A statement from the agency said the funding was for a "short-duration" programme developed jointly with the government's Ministry of International Cooperation and other development partners for the period 2000-2002 in the areas of primary health care, basic education, protection of children, advocacy and social planning.

BURUNDI: Government denies that troops fought in Kisangani

The government on Wednesday vigorously denied claims in the Ugandan press and RCD-Kisangani that its troops fought alongside Rwandans in last week's fighting in Kisangani. A statement, issued by the Burundi embassy in South Africa, said that the charges had been made in an effort to damage relations between Bujumbura and Kampala. "It is with surprise and astonishment that the government of Burundi has learned of the unscrupulous attempt by certain media circles to mislead public opinion by implicating Burundi in the latest clashes which have taken place in Kisangani.

Burundi has never abandoned its principle of good neighbourly relations which do not permit it to meddle in the relations of other states," the statement said, adding that the government of Burundi was determined to resolve the problems in its own country and wanted to reassure its neighbours that no action likely to threaten good relations would emanate from Bujumbura.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Security forces execute six alleged bandits

Six suspected bandits were summarily executed by security forces in Bangui between Friday and Monday under a "deplorable" crime-fighting measure, human rights sources told IRIN on Tuesday. Under the practice, officials from Bangui's Office centrafricain de repression du banditisme (OCRB) track down suspected bandits on their third suspected offence and kill them extrajudicially, "sometimes right in front of their parents", one source said. The OCRB reportedly killed four people on Friday, one on Sunday and another on Monday.

A recent rise in the number of OCRB executions was at least partly due to the increased availability of weapons resulting from the influx of Congolese government soldiers into the city last month, sources said. Local human rights activists say their attempts to speak out against the summary executions have often been met with hostility on the part of residents, who view the OCRB practice as a means of reducing the level of insecurity in their neighbourhoods.

Repatriation of Congolese soldiers continues

Meanwhile, CAR authorities have started to transport Congolese government soldiers from Mobaye to Bangui by road so that they can be airlifted to Kinshasa, sources told IRIN on Tuesday. Some 200 soldiers were flown to Kinshasa on Tuesday, reportedly aboard an Antonov aircraft provided by Libya and more were expected to leave on Wednesday, sources said. Some 5,600 DRC soldiers fled last month to Mobaye, where they have reportedly been terrorising local residents.

UGANDA: WFP targets 27,000 displaced in Kasese for assistance

An assessment mission by the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) has established that between 2,000 and 3,000 children are in need of supplementary feeding and an estimated 24,000 more in need of food assistance among internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kasese district, southwestern Uganda. WFP food has already started arriving and distribution plans are in place, an emergency report by the agency, received by IRIN Tuesday, stated. The International Committee of the Red Cross is expected to provide non-food items to the displaced people.

The official caseload of Sudanese refugees in six refugee camps in northern Uganda stood at 163,750 in early August, with WFP having removed food assistance to 10,486 more who were deemed self-sufficient in line with the recommendations of a WFP/UNHCR joint food needs assessment mission, the WFP report said. All refugees being assisted were in various phases of food ration reduction depending on the nature and degree of their vulnerability, it added. Meanwhile, insecurity in Bundibugyo has meant that WFP had not managed to get access to two of the IDP camps there, but it has verified

95,553 displaced in other camps in the district.

Rebel ADF welcomes Kisangani feud

The rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) active in western Uganda have welcomed last week's fighting between the Ugandan and Rwandan armies, the Ugandan People's Defence Forces (UPDF) and the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA), claiming that the fighting was not about any "vital national security interest UPDF is defending" but how to share the loot being pillage from DRC. A spokesman for the ADF, Roger Kabanda, quoted by 'The Monitor' newspaper, also said the group did not get any support from Sudan, as Uganda has claimed, but captured most of its arms and ammunition from the UPDF. Kabanda also claimed that the Ugandan army had been "dealing summarily" with civilians accused of supporting the ADF in Kasese, Fort Portal and Bundibugyo, without due process of law, the paper added.

Armed Karamojong warriors to be "shot on sight"

An army brigade commander, Lt-Col Geoffrey Kakama, in the Ugandan People's Defence Force has warned that Karamojong warriors found loitering with guns along the highway are to be shot on sight, following incidents in which armed Karamojong warriors staged roadblocks and shot at vehicles on the Soroti-Moroto highway, eastern Uganda, the semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Wednesday. A German national and hospital administrator for Matany, Guenther Nurich, had both his legs shattered in one shooting. Kakama said there was no justification for the Karamojong pastoralists to loiter with their guns on the highway.

KENYA: Census start, but many not counted

The 1999 census kicked off on Tuesday night in what President Daniel arap Moi called the "best ever" in terms of its planning. However, on Wednesday thousands of people from estates surrounding the capital, Nairobi, reported they "did not see the enumerators" and were not counted. Those in a few estates, particularly the sprawling slums, said they had been counted. Although the government has assured the public of its measures to ensure security during the process, which continues to 31 August, people are "worried" because of rising crime. "We have mobilised virtually all uniformed forces, apart from the army, to assist in ensuring security for both the public and the enumerators," Nairobi's Provincial Commissioner and national census officer Cryus Maina was quoted by the 'Daily Nation' newspaper as saying. The census, conducted every decade, is intended to help government planning for socio-economic advancement by mapping social and economic factors in the population social as well as demographic trends.

Power rationing to start in September

Energy Minister Francis Masakhalia announced on Tuesday that his ministry will start rationing power from September, a move which he said was necessitated by the failure of the long rains between March and June. The rationing will affect some 480,000 consumers countrywide, with power cuts lasting four to five hours at a time. Masakhalia said the poor rains had left water levels in Kenya's three main energy reservoirs very low, but promised that essential services and installations such as hospitals, schools, military sites and vital industries like oil refineries would not be affected by the cuts.

TANZANIA: New bid to tackle trachoma blindness

Health Minister Aaron Chiduo has launched a programme aimed at eradicating trachoma, the world's leading cause of preventable blindness which he said was endemic in 10 out of 20 regions in Tanzania. The programme includes preventive education, improved water supplies and drug treatments, news agencies reported. Tanzania has received 300,000 doses of a powerful antibiotic to be administered to those who have the condition, arising from infection by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, while over two million children are reported to be at risk of losing their sight.

Meanwhile, a new method for delivering simple oral antibiotics may prevent blindness among an estimated 146 million people worldwide suffering from trachoma, according to a study in the British medical journal 'The Lancet', quoted by AFP news agency. The latest edition of the journal cited a study comparing the effects of two different antibiotic regimens on infection rates in trachoma endemic areas in Tanzania, Egypt and The Gambia, it said. The research showed that treating entire communities with a short course of the oral antibiotic azithromycin was more effective that the standard six-week course of daily tetracycline ointment applied to the eye, which made trachoma control an attainable goal, 'The Lancet' reported.

Nairobi, 24 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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