IRIN-CEA Update No. 757 [19990914]

IRIN-CEA Update No. 757 [19990914]

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. 757 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 14 September 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN military officers start deployment

The first 10 UN Military Liaison Officers (MLOs) were deployed to regional capitals on Monday after completing a three-day induction course in Nairobi, the UN Regional Humanitarian Advisor's Office told IRIN on Tuesday. Ten more MLOs are scheduled to be deployed over the course of this week. Some 90 MLOs are expected to be attached to the UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) - as approved by the UN Security Council last month - to support the implementation the Lusaka ceasefire agreement. The MLOs deployed on Monday were posted to Kinshasa, Windhoek, Kampala, Kigali and Harare, and 10 others will leave this week for Bujumbura, Lusaka and Kinshasa. In addition, three officers from the mission planning service of the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations are scheduled to travel this week to Lusaka and Kinshasa, the Office said.

Minister "disappointed" over business attitude

Economy Minister Bemba Saolona - father of rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba - expressed disappointment over what he called the failure of his efforts to foster a better partnership between business and the government, Reuters reported on Monday. Bemba Saolona said many businessmen continued to indulge in "malpractices" associated with the corrupt regime of former president Mobutu Sese Seko, in spite of the Kabila government's recent suspension of some economic control measures.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji on Monday accused business representatives of engaging in "the systematic sabotage of our currency by aiding its fall" and vowed to use "drastic measures" against such business operators, Reuters said. The black market rate of the Congolese currency has been 13 or 14 francs to the US dollar over the past two weeks, compared to the official rate of 4.5 francs.

New foreign currency directives

The DRC Central Bank has announced new directives for travellers, due to come into effect on Wednesday, state television reported. Anyone leaving or entering the country will be obliged to declare the amount of foreign currency in their possession which cannot exceed US $10,000 unless the traveller is in transit or on a mission. If the amount is greater, then it has to be transferred through a bank. Non-residents leaving the country must justify any unspent foreign currency.

Kazini reportedly moved to Gbadolite

Reports from Uganda say the Ugandan army chief in DRC, Brigadier James Kazini, has been moved from Kisangani to Gbadolite, the independent Ugandan 'Monitor' daily reported. Press reports on Monday noted that President Yoweri Museveni had appointed another senior army commander, Colonel Edison Muzoora, to go to DRC in a reshuffle of top officers. However, Kazini remains overall commander in DRC, according to a senior military source. Kazini himself told the 'Monitor' he was unaware of the changes.

BURUNDI: Sides "ambivalent" as Arusha talks resume

The independent Internews agency said the Arusha peace process resumed in the northern Tanzania town on Monday with "ambivalence rather than optimism". It cited Mathias Hatimana, leader of the pro-monarchist PRP party, as saying he and other Tutsi opposition groups would withdraw from the talks if the rebel Forces pour la defence de la democratie (FDD) did not take part in the process. He said the signing of a peace accord would be meaningless without the FDD's signature. According to sources cited by the Hirondelle news agency, mediator Julius Nyerere was expected in Arusha later in the week following medical treatment in UK.

RWANDA: Bishop goes on trial

The trial of Catholic bishop Augustin Misago, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, began in Kigali on Tuesday, news organisations reported. In the court, Misago, whose diocese is Gikongoro, maintained his innocence and insisted he was being made a scapegoat. His lawyer, Alfred Pognon, was quoted by Associated Press as saying the trial was "political". "I cannot accept a person to be condemned when it is the institution the person belongs to that is being blamed," Pognon said. Misago, the first ever bishop accused of genocide, was arrested in April after being publicly denounced by President Pasteur Bizimungu.

ICTR resolves recruitment problems

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Monday said its chronic recruitment problems were almost over, Hirondelle news agency reported. ICTR spokesman Kingsley Moghalu told a news conference that thanks to a special taskforce, the Tribunal's vacancy rate had fallen from 35.8 percent at the beginning of the year, to nine percent at the end of the August. "The UN is not famous for the speed of its 206 appointments in eight months means the taskforce has done a very good job," he said.

UGANDA: Research institute becomes regional polio testing centre

The Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe has been declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a reference centre for polio testing for five countries in the region, WHO's representative Hatib Njie confirmed to IRIN on Tuesday. The decision was taken in July as part of the global effort to eradicate polio. He said that formerly every suspected case of polio had to be taken for tests in South Africa, but in 1996 health ministers in the region agreed to set up the campaign on the eradication of polio and recommended strengthening the institute to be the regional testing laboratory. "The institute's laboratory is second to that of South Africa," Njie said. "It will be further equipped. It has a lot of advantage being accessible to the countries in this region." The institute will cater for Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern DRC and Ethiopia.

Assessment shows 700,000 affected by drought

An assessment team set by the Ugandan government to assess the food situation following reports of drought indicated that 700,000 people have been affected by drought and may require food assistance, WFP's latest emergency report said. The government had sent five teams to some 33 districts. WFP organised a follow-up assessment to the drought impact at household and district level which started on Monday with the participation of donors, other UN agencies and NGOs.

TANZANIA: Malnutrition in refugee-affected villages

A recent UNICEF-supported survey among children in western Tanzanian villages has found that the malnutrition rate among village children is higher than in the area's refugee camps. The survey measured about 1,150 children under five years old in 16 villages surrounding the refugee camps in the Kagera and Kigoma regions. It found that 8.9 percent of the children were malnourished, using the weight for height methodology.

Meanwhile, preliminary results of nutritional surveys in four villages around the Lugufu refugee camp indicate a global malnutrition rate of 5.2 percent, including 2.8 percent severe malnutrition, a recent WFP emergency report said. Those surveys were conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Tanzanian Red Cross. Six oedema cases were also identified in the surveyed villages of Kazuramimba, Nyanganga, Uvinza and Basanza, the report said.

Refugee influx down

The refugee influx into Tanzania decreased in August, with some 1,420 people seeking refuge during the month, the latest WFP weekly emergency report said. However, "recyclers" - refugees seeking double registration - remained a matter of concern, and refugee leaders had been requested to help curb the practice, the report said. A total of 100,459 refugees had arrived in the country since the beginning of the year - from the DRC, Burundi and Rwanda - while some 7,726 Burundian and Rwandan refugees were repatriated to their home countries from Tanzania during the same period, the report said. The refugee population in the Kigoma and Ngara camps is now estimated at 371,465.

Opposition accuses ruling party of using religion to undermine it

Tanzania's main opposition Civic United Front (CUF) has accused the country's ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) of "conspiring to make sure the party was deregistered",'The Guardian' newspaper reported. The party's vice-chairman Seif Shariff Hamad on Saturday said the CCM was "using sheikhs in mosques to campaign for deregistration" of the main opposition party in Zanzibar. He claimed that so-called "secret letters" recently circulated in Dodoma and allegations that the opposition party had sent its members for "military training" abroad were among the "covert missions" being carried out by CCM to "undermine" CUF. "We have managed to identify all the sheikhs who are being used by CCM. All of them are CCM members," the paper quoted Hamad as saying. He assured CUF members and supporters that the party would remain "afloat", regardless of the "malicious moves to frustrate its existence".

KENYA: "Alarming" malnutrition in pastoral areas

Successive poor production seasons in pastoral areas of eastern and northern Kenya continue to negatively affect the food security status of the area's population, the latest USAID Famine Early Warning System bulletin said. Heightened insecurity and regional cereal deficits have contributed to increased vulnerability in those areas, it said. "In several pastoral districts and in localised areas, alarmingly high rates of child malnutrition are indicative of severe food insecurity," the bulletin said. Dry weather conditions persisted in pastoral areas during August. Elsewhere, a reduction in maize prices in several key markets of the country has been attributed mainly to increased supplies following the end of harvesting in most of Eastern, Central, Western and Nyanza provinces. However, the price reductions are expected to be short-lived, and maize prices in late August remained 10-50 percent higher than at the same time last year, the bulletin added.

UNITED NATIONS: Second term for UNICEF's Bellamy

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday reappointed Carol Bellamy as UNICEF Executive Director for a second five-year term, a UN statement said. "Over the past four-and-a-half years, Ms. Bellamy has served with distinction and devotion," Annan was quoted as saying. "The world's children will most certainly benefit from her continued leadership of this vital organisation," he said. Bellamy''s reappointment takes effect on 1 May 2000 at the conclusion of her present term. Bellamy, in a statement released in New York, said some of the challenges to be confronted during her second term would include the growing "scourge of HIV/AIDS, the damaging consequences of conflict, and the asphyxiating effect of poverty and debt" on children. UNICEF's annual operating budget is about US $1 billion.

Nairobi, 14 September 1999, 13:30 gmt


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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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