IRIN-CEA Update No. 750 [19990903]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 750 [19990903]

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. 750 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 3 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Security Council urges respect for accord

UN Security Council members have welcomed the signing of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement by the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD). In a press statement late Thursday, the Council's president for the month of September, Peter van Walsum of the Netherlands, said the members urged all sides to abide strictly by the agreement and to refrain from any action putting it at risk "so that peace can become a reality." The members also welcomed the imminent deployment of the first group of UN military liaison officers to the region to help implement the accord, the statement said.

Humanitarian operations to benefit from signing

The presence in the Lusaka peace accord of a number of humanitarian concerns will help UN agencies to address pressing needs of the population on all sides, the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the DRC said. A statement from the Office received by IRIN on Thursday said the UN agencies would now draw on the accord's clauses, particularly chapter 6, to carry out assistance activities throughout the country. Chapter 6 of the Lusaka accord calls for the establishment of a consultative mechanism to enable country-wide operations "of general interest" in the fields of public health, education, migrations, and movement of persons and goods.

The statement noted that the UN and its partners had already engaged in a number of cross-line health, education and refugee activities, particularly over the past four months, supported by "direct humanitarian flights" between Kinshasa and rebel-controlled regions. The UN system will continue to push for a humanitarian component in the political process agreed upon in Lusaka, it added.

Suspected haemorrhagic fever in Province Orientale

Samples taken from the Isiro area of Province Orientale have been sent to South Africa to test for the presence of haemorrhagic fever, a WHO official told IRIN on Friday. A WHO team was sent from Kampala to Isiro on Thursday for a one-day investigation after one man in the town was reported to have died of suspected haemorrhagic fever on 29 August. The man had recently arrived from Durba, where he was believed to have contracted the disease, the official said.

Six other cases of suspected haemorrhagic fever were reported in Durba between 8-22 August, of whom four have died, humanitarian sources told IRIN this week. The laboratory results on the Isiro samples are expected on Monday, the WHO official said. From late 1998 to May, a haemorrhagic fever outbreak identified as Marburg in the Durba and Watsa areas of the province had affected about 90 people, of whom 60 died.

Ituri conflict leads to measles epidemic

Conflict between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups in Ituri district, Province Orientale, has led to a measles epidemic, a sharp increase in cholera and plague cases, and a rise in malnutrition in the area, MSF said on Thursday. In a statement received by IRIN, MSF said the conflict, which began in mid-June, had made about 40,000 people homeless and had already claimed a "large number" of dead and injured. "The displaced are living in conditions of poor hygiene, and health centres in the region have been looted, torched, or abandoned, leaving both the local population and the displaced without medical aid," the statement said.

In response, MSF has launched a large-scale measles vaccination campaign targeting 30,000-35,000 children, has distributed anti-cholera drugs and water purification equipment and is working with local health services on measures to be taken against plague. Eighteen plague cases have been reported in the area since 5 August, and five deaths have been attributed to the disease, the statement said.

More Tutsis evacuated from Kinshasa

A total of 360 "persons at risk" were evacuated on Monday and Tuesday from Kinshasa to Benin, from where they will "probably find resettlement in third countries," the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a statement received by IRIN on Thursday. Some 1,500 ethnic Tutsis have been held under "protective custody" in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi since August 1998.

RWANDA: UN inquiry team meets officials, visits genocide sites

The independent inquiry commission examining the UN's role and actions in Rwanda before and after the 1994 genocide met with government officials, NGOs and heads of UN agencies on Wednesday and Thursday after their arrival in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. It also held meetings on Thursday with a number of ministers and visited the genocide sites at the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO) and Nyamata, humanitarian sources in Rwanda told IRIN. The inquiry team, scheduled to leave Rwanda on Friday, comprises former Swedish prime minister Ingvar Carlsson, former Republic of Korea foreign minister Professor Han Sung-Joo and Lt-Gen Rufus M Kupolati of Nigeria.

KENYA: Police arrest 600 in security raids focused on illegal aliens

More than 600 people were arrested in Nairobi on Wednesday night, including a good number of Somalis and Ethiopians, in a police crackdown on illegal aliens, the possession of firearms and communications equipment, Nairobi Provincial Police Officer Peter Mbuvi told IRIN on Friday. "We are sorting them out now" he added, referring to the different nationalities of illegal aliens found during armed raids on crime-prone areas of Nairobi, including the suburbs of Eastleigh, Huruma, Kia Maiko, Soko Mjinga, Kawangware and Kangemi. Mbuvi told news agencies that police had seized two pistols, high-powered equipment "used to communicate with people outside Kenya" and which posed a threat to Kenyan security, as well as drugs and suspected stolen goods. Those arrested included Somalis and Ethiopians, and while some would be prosecuted for criminal offences, refugees would be repatriated to camps and illegal aliens deported, Mbuvi added.

In a related development, President Daniel arap Moi defended strict new rules for issuing national identity cards, the 'Daily Nation' newspaper reported on Friday. Moi said the rules had been introduced after last year's 7 August bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi - after which it was discovered that suspects had illegally obtained Kenyan ID cards - and were aimed at "ensuring that criminal elements who are not Kenyan do not acquire Kenyan identification documents", the paper added.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Large displacement in "forgotten war"

Nearly 175,000 displaced people and refugees have moved to Brazzaville since May, the Office of the Regional Humanitarian Advisor for the Great Lakes in Nairobi said in its latest "Affected Populations" report. The figure includes Brazzaville residents who had been displaced to the Pool region at the outset of fighting last year, inhabitants of Pool who are now seeking refugee in the capital, and returnees from the DRC, the report said. It said there were "credible reports" that civilians arriving in Brazzaville, whether from the DRC or Pool, were being harassed by government forces allegedly searching for rebel militia members. "Arbitrary detentions are disappearances are not uncommon," the report stated. There were now an estimated 331,625 people displaced by what the report called a "forgotten war", adding that the health and nutritional status of people coming from Pool was "notably poor."

Nairobi, 3 September 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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