Subject: GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 779 [19991014]

Subject: GREAT LAKES: IRIN-CEA Update 779 [19991014]

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 779 for the Great Lakes (Thursday 14 October 1999)


TANZANIA: Nyerere dies in London hospital BURUNDI: Top UN official arrives BURUNDI: Humanitarian conditions in regroupment camps BURUNDI: Limited resources amid growing food needs DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Army alleges new rebel attack DRC: Rebel leader denies corruption charge DRC: Food insecurity affecting over 10 million DRC: Survival strategies not enough RWANDA: Women genocide survivors in urgent need

TANZANIA: Nyerere dies in London hospital

Former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, a major force behind the Pan-African movement and one of the continent's most revered elder statesmen, died in a London hospital on Thursday at the age of 77, news agencies said. Nyerere, who led his country to independence in 1961 and voluntarily stepped down as president 24 years later, continued to play an important role in national and regional affairs and served as the facilitator of the Arusha-based peace process for neighbouring Burundi for the past four years. Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa ordered a 30-day mourning period. "I know the death of the father of the nation is going to shock and dismay all Tanzanians," Mkapa said in a national television and radio address. Nyerere, diagnosed with leukaemia in August 1998, went into intensive care last month and suffered a major stroke on Wednesday, news agencies reported. [Please also refer to separate IRIN item of 14 October headlined "BURUNDI: IRIN Focus on impact of Nyerere death"]

BURUNDI: Top UN official arrives

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Sergio Vieira de Mello arrived in Bujumbura from Nairobi on Thursday for talks with officials. Speaking during a visit to Somalia on Wednesday, he condemned the slaying of nine people, including two UN staffers, in Rutana province, describing it as "simply intolerable". He said the violence in Burundi was "obviously linked to the internal state of civil war that the Arusha peace process does not seem to have managed to bring under control". He stressed that the UN "will never pull out from a political engagement - whether in Burundi or anywhere else."

BURUNDI: Humanitarian conditions in regroupment camps

Only 25 percent of the 38 regroupment camps in Bujumbura Rural are accessible by road, shelter materials are lacking and "crowding is intense," Refugees International has said. "Sanitary conditions are an immediate concern," the organisation said in a statement released on Tuesday. "The lack of latrines and resulting contamination of new camps by human waste causes the risk of an epidemic. Cases of diarrhoea, dysentery and measles have been reported", although no deaths had yet been attributed to disease outbreaks, it said. "Severe health problems will result if better shelter is not provided immediately," it warned, adding that food in the camps was also in very short supply.

BURUNDI: Limited resources amid growing food needs

WFP's food supply for Burundi is "stretched to the limit," a WFP spokesperson in Nairobi confirmed to IRIN on Thursday. "The needs seems to be growing everyday and we have at this stage limited amount of resources for response," she said. WFP had been assisting an average of 400,000 people every month but was now also trying to provide food for the thousands more who have recently been regrouped, "and also to provide one million food packages to people receiving seeds," she added.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Army alleges new rebel attack

The army on Tuesday accused rebel forces of attacking the town of Kitenta near Kabinda in Kasai Oriental on Monday, state radio reported. It quoted a statement as saying the allied forces of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) had repelled the attack, killing 10 rebels. It was the second rebel attack on the town since 2 October, the statement added.

DRC: Rebel leader denies corruption charge

The Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) will conduct a "general audit", following allegations that its leader, Emile Ilunga, had embezzled funds, news agencies reported on Wednesday. AFP, citing rebel sources, said a recent meeting of the movement's politbureau had taken the decision because "large sums of money" received by Ilunga - including US $500,000 from Gabonese President Omar Bongo and US $1.5 million from a South African bank - had never been put into the RCD budget. "These are false accusations, there has been no embezzlement," Ilunga told AFP.

DRC: Food insecurity affecting over 10 million

Over 10 million people in the DRC are living in conditions of food insecurity, including some two million seriously-affected inhabitants, FAO-Kinshasa said. In an analysis of the situation facing the country at the start of the Lusaka peace implementation process, FAO said those most affected included 831,000 displaced persons, 844,000 vulnerable urban residents and some 300,000 refugees currently in the DRC. Other affected people included 5.1 million living along the front line, 844,000 less vulnerable but still "fragilised" urban residents, and 2.5 million inhabitants of homes hosting displaced people, it said in a report received by IRIN. In addition to the 10 million affected, another 4.1 million people in isolated rural areas were at risk of food insecurity, including 1.3 million in Maniema province, it said.

The division of the country in two since the start of the conflict had prevented almost all internal trade, while population movements had seriously disrupted agricultural activities, the report said. Other factors that had contributed to widespread food insecurity included the deterioration of people's purchasing power, the export of resources by foreign armies present in the DRC, the appropriation of farmers' produce by soldiers, and the shortage of basic goods resulting from strict government-imposed fiscal rules, the analysis said.

DRC: Survival strategies not enough

Faced with the food security crisis, Congolese people had adopted various "survival strategies", including reducing the number of meals they eat per day and increasing their dependency on cassava, the FAO report said. An increasing number of families in Kinshasa were engaged in small-scale food production activities in and around the capital. There had also been some "reorganisation" of internal and regional commercial trade routes. However, these coping strategies "are clearly insufficient to cancel out all the effects of the crisis and there are a number of visible symptoms of the deterioration in peoples' living conditions," including increases in child malnutrition, adult mortality and school drop-out rates, the FAO analysis concluded.

RWANDA: Women genocide survivors in urgent need

Women will take part in judging genocide cases in Rwanda, and a tribunal to be established for adjudicating crimes against humanity in the country will be comprised 30 percent of women, a Rwandan official told a UN General Assembly committee on Wednesday. At a meeting to review issues related to the global advancement of women, the Rwandan representative, Augustus Musenga, said urgent resources were required to provide legal representation and income-generating activities for women, who were "the victims of the worst atrocities" during the 1994 genocide, a UN statement reported. In the genocide's aftermath, many widows were now heading households. They lived in abject poverty, and they lacked shelter and access to medical services because of financial constraints, Musenga said.

Nairobi, 14 October 1999, 15:00 gmt


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Item: irin-english-1772

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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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