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IRIN-CEA Update 776 for the Great Lakes (Monday 11 October 1999)
DRC: Bleak picture of life along ceasefire line DRC: JMC meets in Kampala DRC: Alleged ceasefire violations in Katanga DRC: RCD-Goma to fight "somalisation" of provinces DRC: Civil society debate ends in Kinshasa DRC: Banyamulenge complain of exclusion BURUNDI: Government denies further MISNA claims BURUNDI: Some displaced people relocated BURUNDI: Living conditions vary - WFP BURUNDI: Soldier arrested for killing regrouped people BURUNDI: Parliament to focus on peace, economy BURUNDI: New UN rapporteur visiting TANZANIA: Thousands of Burundians flee conflict RWANDA: ANC and RPF want closer relationship RWANDA: Top-level Ugandans visiting RWANDA: New chief prosecutor sworn in
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Bleak picture of life along ceasefire line
Hundreds of thousands of Congolese are caught up in a daily struggle to remain alive on both sides of a vast ceasefire line in the DRC, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the DRC has said. In a press release, sent to IRIN on Monday, Darioush Bayandor said a UN-NGO-donor team which visited the eastern areas of Moba, Kalemie and Nyunzu last week found severe economic depression, acute malnutrition and deserted towns around the ceasefire line. "The existence of 1.1 million war displaced people within the DRC and across its frontiers is just one facet of the humanitarian drama in this country," he warned. "These are sober facts with no tinge of dramatisation...they should be highlighted so that there is no excuse for lack of knowledge." Similar findings have been reported by UN-led missions on both sides of the ceasefire line. "We are embarrassed to continue sending out these missions because they create expectations among the badly-hit population that someone is finally coming to their rescue," Bayandor added. [Full press release available on the IRIN-Extra service].
DRC: JMC meets in Kampala
The Joint Military Commission (JMC), established under the Lusaka ceasefire accord, began meeting on Monday in the Ugandan capital Kampala, a Ugandan government official said. "The meeting started this morning and is now going on under the chairmanship of [Algerian General] Lalli Rachid," Uganda's Presidential Press Secretary Hope Kivengere told IRIN on Monday. Meanwhile, AFP quoted Ugandan State Minister for Foreign Affairs Amama Mbabazi as saying on Sunday that he expected all signatories to the agreement, including RCD rebels, to participate in the meeting. "RCD is entitled to two seats. It is up to them how they share it out," Mbabazi said. This is the first substantive meeting of the JMC, which is responsible for monitoring implementation of the accord pending the deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation.
DRC: Alleged ceasefire violations in Katanga
The DRC government and the Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) over the weekend accused each other of violating the Lusaka ceasefire agreement in Katanga province, news agencies reported. The Associated Press (AP) on Saturday cited a government statement as saying the rebels had attacked the village of Kimalala near the town of Manono in southern Katanga on Friday and Saturday. "The strategy adopted by the rebels aims at preventing the setting up of the Joint Military Commission" called for in the Lusaka agreement, the statement said. Meanwhile, rebel military commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane on Sunday denied the accusations, saying it was President Laurent-Desire Kabila who had violated the ceasefire by amassing troops around Manono and Mousosa to "find excuses to attack our positions in Katanga", AFP reported.
DRC: RCD-Goma to fight "somalisation" of provinces
The RCD-Goma faction on Sunday vowed to recapture territory controlled by the Ugandan-backed RCD-Kisangani group led by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, news agencies reported. AFP quoted an RCD-Goma statement as saying the group was determined to recover the northern part of North Kivu and the Ituri district of Province Orientale, where new provinces have been declared. RCD-Goma leader Emile Ilunga said "our movement cannot accept the somalisation of the country. The artificial creation of a Congolese province amounts to high treason". Ilunga said he was willing to discuss the matter with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to avoid conflict, AFP reported.
Meanwhile, North Kivu provincial authorities have called on the UN to provide US $3 million to reforest areas cleared by refugees between 1994-96. Rebel-controlled radio in Goma said on Sunday the authorities wanted to "reforest millions of hectares of plants destroyed by the Rwandan Hutu refugees who stayed in the region".
DRC: Civil society debate ends in Kinshasa
The civil society debate has ended in Kinshasa with a call for national reconciliation, national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The debate brought together civil society representatives from all over the country including rebel-held areas. In a final declaration, received by IRIN on Monday, participants urged the international community to ensure implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire accord and to extend humanitarian assistance to victims of the DRC war. They also expressed readiness to take part in the forthcoming national debate. DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi on Saturday confirmed that the national debate would go ahead "within the deadlines fixed by the Lusaka agreements".
DRC: Banyamulenge complain of exclusion
However, members of the Banyamulenge community in eastern DRC complained they had not been invited to the civil society debate. In a statement, received by IRIN, five South Kivu organisations said the age-old anti-Tutsi policy in DRC was continuing. "We condemn this attitude of exclusion at the peace meeting in Kinshasa which is going ahead without us," the statement said. It warned the facilitators of the Lusaka accord to beware of such peace initiatives "by certain Congolese who dare organise a national meeting without considering the Congolese Tutsi as compatriots with whom they have to share a dialogue". "Searching for peace in Congo, and particularly in Kivu, without including the Congolese Tutsi, will be a vain effort," the statement concluded.
BURUNDI: Government denies further MISNA claims
The Burundi government has protested against further "tendentious" reporting by the missionary news agency MISNA. In a statement sent to IRIN on Monday, the government said MISNA alleged the army was chasing people from Bujumbura to "an unknown destination". The statement reiterated the government's policy was to place people in protective sites while the army flushed out rebels from Bujumbura Rural province. It said the regrouped people were escorted by the authorities to tend their fields during the daytime, and were not being led towards an "unknown destination". However, some villagers, "in an uncontrolled way", had gone to join groups of former displaced people in eastern parts of the capital, notably in the Legentil camp," the statement added.
BURUNDI: Some displaced people relocated
The Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) on Sunday said some 5,000 former displaced people at Johnson, Legentil and Mt. Sion camps who fled Bujumbura Rural in August, were transferred to a protection site at Gikezi in eastern Bujumbura. A further 6,000 people at Johnson and Legentil camps were to be returned to their zones of origin, according to the head of Gihosha zone, Gilbert Ndayizamvye.
BURUNDI: Living conditions vary - WFP
WFP says recent assessments carried out at accessible regroupment sites show that living conditions vary from site to site. In its latest weekly report, the UN food agency said some sites required urgent assistance for all basic needs, while others needed only water. Plans are underway to issue identity cards to allow more freedom of movement to the regrouped population.
Non-essential food-for-work distributions have been put on hold pending food availability, WFP said. Distribution of seed protection rations is continuing in Bubanza and Kayanza provinces, considered as high priority cases for seed protection programmes. The distribution of seed rations in Makamba was postponed due to insecurity.
BURUNDI: Soldier arrested for killing regrouped people
A soldier has been arrested after killing six people at a displaced site in Ruyaga, near Bujumbura, Burundi radio reported. It said the incident, on Friday, was due to "confusion". News organisations quoted army spokesman Colonel Longin Minani as saying the "undisciplined soldier" opened fire after a camp resident refused to show him his identity papers. Some reports said up to 13 people were killed.
BURUNDI: Parliament to focus on peace, economy
Opening the October session of the national assembly last week, Speaker Leonce Ngendakumana said the focus would be on the economy and the peace process. According to official government information, parliament would examine the budget for the year 2000. Ngendakumana urged the government to speed up finalisation of the budget.
BURUNDI: New UN rapporteur visiting
The new UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burundi, Professor Marie-Therese Keita-Bocoum, is on a two-week mission to the country, according to a UN statement. She is due to meet high-ranking judicial and military authorities, as well as local officials, political organisations, church, media and human rights representatives. The statement said the aim of her mission is to "gather information regarding the evolution of the human rights situation in Burundi". She replaces Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, who resigned in June on health grounds.
TANZANIA: Thousands of Burundians flee conflict
Four thousand new Burundian refugees fleeing heavy fighting in Makamba province have been registered in western Tanzania over the past two weeks and many more are expected to arrive, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said on Friday. The refugees, who arrived at four points near the town of Kasulu, said they fled conflict between Burundian government forces and rebels around the village of Susumwa. They reported that government troops were trying to "move civilians forcibly into camps so that young males are not pressed into the rebel ranks", Janowski said. Meanwhile, rebels are reported to be harassing the population in an effort to drive people into exile, he said. Refugees have told UNHCR that many homes are being burned in the process. Space around Tanzania's Nduta refugee camp, which hosted about 40,000 people before the latest influx, is being urgently identified to accommodate the increase in new arrivals, Janowski added.
RWANDA: ANC and RPF want closer relationship
The ruling parties of South Africa and Rwanda have agreed to build a "closer working relationship" and to work against ethnic and racial intolerance to enable the "African Renaissance" to take root. A statement by South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) on Friday said a two-day meeting in Johannesburg with a delegation from the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led by its secretary-general, Charles Murigande, had discussed efforts to bring peace and stability in the Great Lakes region. The two parties shared "a number of commonalities", including liberation struggles waged against discrimination, segregation and oppression and a strong commitment to national unity and reconciliation, the statement said. The ANC and the RPF agreed to promote "inter-party political, economic and social activities" and to influence their respective governments to achieve goals "recognised as mutually beneficial," it said.
RWANDA: Top-level Ugandans visiting
Moves to normalise relations between Uganda and Rwanda are continuing. According to the Rwanda News Agency (RNA), a high-ranking Ugandan delegation arrived in Kigali on Sunday for further talks in the aftermath of clashes between the two countries' armies in Kisangani in August. The delegation, which includes Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya and Minister of State for Defence Steven Kavuma, is due to meet Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice-President Paul Kagame. "This visit is in the framework of bilateral discussions on how we can further strengthen our relations," Kagame's adviser, Emmanuel Gasana, told RNA. Last month, a Rwandan delegation, led by RPF Secretary-General Charles Murigande, visited Kampala. The two sides have produced a joint report on the Kisangani clashes.
RWANDA: New chief prosecutor sworn in
President Pasteur Bizimungu has sworn in the country's new chief prosecutor, Gerald Gahima, Rwandan radio reported on Saturday. He told Gahima - former directeur de cabinet at the justice ministry - that he had the difficult task of fighting corruption ahead of him. Bizimungu further urged all Rwandans to combat corruption.
Nairobi, 11 October 1999, 14:25 gmt
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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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