IRIN-CEA Update 778 [19991013]

IRIN-CEA Update 778 [19991013]

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 778 for the Great Lakes (Wednesday 13 October 1999)


BURUNDI: UN suspends missions after staff killed BURUNDI: Rebels taking advantage of fluid situation RWANDA: Hate radio journalist makes "taped confessions" RWANDA: Uncertain support for "villagisation" efforts DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Security "guarantees" reached at JMC DRC: Uganda reaffirms support DRC: Zambia, Uganda contribute to JMC fund DRC: Rebel representation a "non-issue" DRC: Mining lay-offs affect Lubumbashi food security DRC: Partial polio results show 89 percent coverage

BURUNDI: UN suspends missions after staff killed

The UN on Wednesday temporarily suspended all missions outside the Burundi capital, Bujumbura, following Tuesday's murder of two UN staff members and seven other people by rebels in the southeast province of Rutana. According to a press statement by the OCHA office in Burundi, the incident occurred when a group of about 35 rebels attacked a team of humanitarian workers who were on an assessment mission to a site for 4,000 displaced people at Muzye, some 12 km from Rutana airport. The UN staff members killed were named as Luis Zuniga, the UNICEF representative in Burundi, and Saskia Von Meijenfeldt, a WFP logistics officer. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed his condolences to the victims' families and insisted that the killers be brought to justice.

Burundi army spokesman Colonel Longin Minani blamed the incident on rebels of the Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD), assisted by Rwandan Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR members, who were hiding among the population. The FDD's Brussels-based spokesman Jerome Ndiho denied the charges. [For details, please refer to separate IRIN item of 13 October headlined: "BURUNDI: UN suspends missions after staff killed"]

BURUNDI: Rebels taking advantage of fluid situation

The Rutana incident again highlights the uncertain nature of the country's Hutu rebel groups who have become increasingly active in recent months. The rebel groups have issued periodic warning statements to foreigners. The recent upsurge in armed attacks against the capital drew attention away from the violence in the rest of the country, but observers note that with the prospect of implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire accord in neighbouring DRC, Burundian rebels - accompanied by Rwandan Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR - have been filtering back into Burundi. Analysts say that with the Arusha peace process teetering, worsened by the ill-health of the facilitator Julius Nyerere, all sides in Burundi are trying to take advantage of the fluid situation. [For details, please refer to separate IRIN item of 13 October headlined: "BURUNDI: IRIN Focus on rebel movements"]

RWANDA: Hate radio journalist makes "taped confessions"

Belgian journalist Georges Ruggiu, accused of inciting genocide over hate radio, has reportedly made at least 35 hours of taped confessions to prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania. The independent Hirondelle news agency quoted the bimonthly Rwandan magazine 'Ubutabera' as saying on Monday that Ruggiu started his taped confessions on 27 July. Ruggiu, charged with direct and public incitement to genocide and crimes against humanity, is expected to be tried jointly with three other media-linked genocide suspects, Hirondelle said. He was a presenter with Radio Television Libre des Milles Collines (RTLM), which incited people to kill ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 genocide.

RWANDA: Uncertain support for "villagisation" efforts

The Rwandan government is moving ahead with its controversial villagisation effort throughout the country as international agencies grapple with what role they should play in a programme that is expected to have far-reaching implications on Rwandan society, aid officials said. "The policy is clear. In rural areas, every Rwandan is to move into a village for the purpose of proper land utilisation and the provision of basic services," said Patricia Hajabakiga, secretary-general in the ministry of lands, human resettlement and environmental protection (MINITERE). "It's the only alternative we have," she said. But many donors remain sceptical about the programme, citing reports of "coerced" relocations, disappointing experiences of villagisation in other countries, and a lack of population participation in the process. [For details, please refer to separate IRIN item of 13 October headlined: "RWANDA: Focus on villagisation"]

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Security "guarantees" reached at JMC

Representatives of the warring parties pledged on Tuesday to guarantee the security of UN personnel deployed to the DRC under the Lusaka ceasefire accord, news agencies said. A statement released at the end of the two-day meeting of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, said "written declarations of security guarantees" had been given by all the parties, including the DRC, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda as well as rebels of the Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) and the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), AFP reported.

DRC: Uganda reaffirms support

Addressing the JMC meeting, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni reaffirmed Uganda's support for the Lusaka accord, saying it "addresses the security concerns of the DRC's neighbours" as well as the Congo's "longtime internal problems", according to a government statement. The issue had "divided the freedom fighters of Africa", who had found themselves fighting on opposites sides in the DRC conflict, Museveni said. The Lusaka accord would enable the region to "re-channel its resources from war into development," the statement said, adding that Museveni had appealed to the UN to "come in without delay" to help implement the peace plan.

DRC: Zambia, Uganda contribute to JMC fund

Meanwhile, Uganda will contribute US $100,000 to a JMC fund set up by main mediator and Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, Museveni was quoted as saying in the statement. Zambia had already contributed US $100,000, it added. The statement quoted Uganda's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Amama Mbabazi as saying pledges had also come in from European Union countries, South Africa and the OAU. On Friday, the German press agency DPA quoted Chiluba as saying South Africa had contributed four helicopters and a "huge" amount of money, while other members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had made "tentative" contributions.

DRC: Rebel representation a "non-issue"

Both RCD factions were represented at the Kampala meeting, UN and media sources said on Wednesday. Disagreement over who should represent the RCD had previously hindered activation of the JMC, which is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Lusaka accord until the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force. Mbabazi told AFP that RCD representation was now a "non-issue" and would be dealt with by the ministerial-level Political Committee, also created under the Lusaka agreement and which is chaired by Mbabazi.

DRC: Mining lay-offs affect Lubumbashi food security

The dismissal of some 6,000 employees of the mining company Gecamines in Lubumbashi, Katanga province, has affected the general food security situation in the city, an FAO report said. The report, received by IRIN on Monday, said that in addition to the lay-offs, the salaries of many other Gecamines employees remained unpaid and the provision of food as partial payment had also been suspended. Meanwhile, recent government-imposed monetary restrictions had reduced the capacity of importers to bring in products from southern Africa, while the food-supplying northern part of the province remained inaccessible, the report added. The presence of displaced persons in the city has put further pressure on the resources of local families, it said.

Meanwhile, the Belgian daily 'Le Soir' said on Tuesday that Lubumbashi-based Belgian entrepreneurs were "bitter" toward Gecamines' Zimbabwean boss, Billy Rautenbach, whom they accuse of favoring his own businesses in Zimbabwe.

DRC: Partial polio results show 89 percent coverage

About 89 percent of the children targeted in the second round of the DRC's national polio immunisation campaign were vaccinated in those areas that had so far reported their results, a UNICEF report said. The report, received by IRIN on Tuesday, said over 4.3 million children were reached in the 128 heath zones for which data was currently available. Another 179 zones, with an estimated 5.9 million children under five years of age, had not yet reported their results from the 17-19 September round, the report noted. It said children could not be vaccinated in 10 zones located in Province Orientale, Kasai Occidentale and Equateur due to security or logistical difficulties. The third and final round is scheduled for 22-24 October.

Nairobi, 13 October 1999, 15:30 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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