GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 772 [19991005]

GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 772 [19991005]

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 772 for the Great Lakes (Tuesday 5 October 1999)


DRC: Wamba renames rebel group DRC: Civil society meeting stopped DRC: Inter-ethnic conflict continues in Ituri DRC: Cholera outbreak in Kisangani DRC: "Critical" situation in Pweto DRC: Aid workers' arrest raises security concerns UGANDA: Court appearance set for DRC case BURUNDI: Government wants talks with rebels BURUNDI: Five rebels killed BURUNDI: Food needs among regrouped people

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Wamba renames rebel group

Rebel faction leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba has reportedly renamed his group and established a transitional "government" in the northeastern town of Bunia. According to the semi-official Ugandan daily 'New Vision', his faction is now known as the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie-mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) in which Wamba heads the defence department. The new administration, which was established on 1 October, has two vice-presidents (yet to be named), a prime minister and a deputy, eight ministers and nine deputy ministers. There is a political council and an army high command. Key appointees include Mbusa Nyamwisi as "prime minister", Pashi Claver as "foreign minister" and Jacques Depelchin as "local administration minister".

DRC: Inter-ethnic conflict continues in Ituri

Inter-ethnic conflict between the Walendu and Wahema groups is still raging in the Ituri area, with residents fleeing to the bush or towards Bunia town, sources in the area told IRIN. Follow-up polio vaccinations failed to take place in some parts because of the insecurity. Reports say some 30,000 people have been displaced.

DRC: Civil society meeting stopped

The DRC government has refused to allow a meeting of civil society groups in Kinshasa, due to take place from 4-7 October, to go ahead. In a message received by IRIN, NGO sources said security forces, sent by the interior ministry, prevented delegates from leaving their lodgings. Those who were particularly targeted were delegates from rebel-held areas of the country, the sources said.

DRC: Cholera outbreak in Kisangani

A cholera outbreak in Kisangani affected 150 people between 5-30 September, with 23 deaths attributed to the disease, humanitarian sources told IRIN. Some 139 cases were reported in the Lubungu area on the left bank, while 11 cases were recorded on the right bank within Kisangani health zone. Humanitarian agencies were supporting cholera treatment services and undertaking prevention activities in affected areas, the sources said. But water-treatment chemicals were in very short supply in the town, raising concerns that the outbreak could spread, they added.

DRC: "Critical" situation in Pweto

An NGO mission to the Dubi and Pweto areas of Katanga province found that some 20,000 war-affected displaced people were in a critical situation, WFP said in its weekly emergency report. The MSF-Belgium mission warned that "malnutrition may jeopardise lives of many children", according to the WFP report. WFP expected to reach the malnourished in Pweto when resources were made available for its emergency operations in the DRC, the report said, adding that an Italian donation of rice will be used to fill the gap.

DRC: Arrest of aid workers raises security concerns

The recent arrest of two UNHCR field assistants in Kisenge has raised security concern among humanitarian organisations in Katanga, the weekly WFP report said. The workers were arrested by the military on 9 September on accusation that UNHCR and a group of Kisenge residents were allegedly recruiting youths for the Angolan rebel UNITA movement. They were released two days later following the intervention of UNHCR and the government, the report stated. Meanwhile, the UN system in Kinshasa was meeting on a daily basis to analyse the impact of the government's recent decision to close all foreign exchange bureaux and prohibit the holding of dollars, a measure expected to have "a number of far reaching implications" on agency operations, the report added.

UGANDA: Court appearance set for DRC case, Attorney-General says

Attorney-General Bart Katureebe told members of parliament on Monday that Uganda had been summoned to appear before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 19 October to answer to charges that it invaded the DRC, Radio Uganda reported. Meanwhile, the semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper had earlier reported that Katureebe and Uganda's envoy to the Netherlands would represent Uganda in the case. The DRC in June filed complaints at the Hague-based ICJ against Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda, accusing the three countries of "armed aggression" and of looting its resources.

An ICJ registry official said on Tuesday she could not confirm that a meeting with Uganda had been scheduled. "Normally such meetings are kept confidential, and parties are asked to refrain from announcing" the dates to ensure that the Court remains neutral and to avoid putting any party "under pressure", the ICJ official told IRIN. The Court president generally holds a meeting with all the parties to a dispute sometime after a case is filed to try to reach agreement on time limits for filing written case documents. No such meeting had been held yet in the DRC case, the official said. "It would not be a summons, just an indication to participate in a meeting to discuss how much time the parties need to file written pleadings," she added.

BURUNDI: Government calls for talks with rebels

Foreign Minister Severin Ntahomvukiye has reiterated his country's call for all armed factions to take part in the Arusha peace process. In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Saturday, he warned that time was against the peace process "which is fragile". "If, after being invited, the armed factions or other parties to the negotiations, refuse the peace process, then we will agree with the mediator's idea by which Burundi - in close cooperation with its neighbours - will isolate and neutralise the rebellion or other recalcitrant sides."

His comments were echoed by government spokesman Luc Rukingama on Monday who said the government had decided to follow up contacts with the rebels "where the mediators have failed to do so". Interviewed by Radio France Internationale, he said it was possible to "negotiate on the sidelines" of the peace process. CNDD-FDD spokesman Jerome Ndiho told the radio the comments were a "small step in the right direction". However, "we will only take this statement seriously after confirmation from Major Buyoya", he added. "We are no longer interested in Arusha. We want direct negotiations between the two sides."

BURUNDI: More rebel attacks

Five rebels were killed near Bujumbura overnight Sunday after launching a surprise attack on a military post in the Mkenga-Busoro sector of Kanyosha commune, the private Azania news agency reported on Tuesday. Three soldiers were also killed, it said, citing a military source. The soldiers were reportedly forced to flee towards Kabezi. News organisations also reported the murder of 11 civilians by rebels in Bujumbura's northern suburbs of Kanga and Bubanza overnight on Monday.

BURUNDI: Food needs among regrouped people

Assessment teams have established that food assistance was required at five sites regrouping 14,000 displaced people in Bujumbura Rural, WFP said in its latest weekly emergency report. In addition, some 5,800 people recently displaced from the province into three sites in Bujumbura town required food aid, it said. Due to continuous population movements, most sites will need to be revisited to reassess the changing needs, the report added. Meanwhile, distribution of food for non-essential food-for-work projects have been withheld until mid-October so that food can be used for the regrouped population from Bujumbura Rural, it said.

Nairobi, 5 October 1999, 14:50 gmt


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

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