IRIN-CEA Update 782 [19991019]

IRIN-CEA Update 782 [19991019]

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 782 for the Great Lakes (Tuesday 19 October 1999)


BURUNDI: Government suggests South African mediation BURUNDI: Deliberations after funeral BURUNDI: Most people undernourished RWANDA: 300,000 children in homes without adults RWANDA: ICTR dismisses Barayagwiza defence motions DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government alleges UN inaction DRC: Protest letter details "massive human rights violations" DRC: Journalist's continuing detention criticised UGANDA: Mining prohibited for DRC-based troops UGANDA: Two reported killed in ADF attacks UGANDA/TANZANIA: Deported Ugandans "not refugees"

BURUNDI: Government suggests South African mediation

The government has proposed that South Africa take over mediation of the Arusha-based Burundi peace process following the death last week of the talks' facilitator, former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere. In a statement received by IRIN on Tuesday, the government said South Africa had an "objective and constructive influence" in the sub-region and a "more and more sensitive" role in the settlement of the Burundi conflict. Two of the committees set up under the Arusha process were already chaired by South African personalities, it added. While reiterating the government's support for the peace talks, the statement said it was important "to correct a number of weaknesses observed in the methodology and management" of the negotiations. A new facilitator should be appointed "without delay" and should be assisted by two or three deputies, it said.

BURUNDI: Deliberations after funeral

Meanwhile, an official from the Nyerere Foundation, Mark Bomani, told IRIN on Tuesday that the last group of delegates from the Burundian parties participating in the Arusha talks were due to arrive in Tanzania later in the day, but deliberations would only begin after Nyerere's funeral on Saturday.

BURUNDI: Most people undernourished

Undernourishment has increased sharply and food production has fallen as Burundi struggles to cope with rapid population growth, severe land degradation and simmering civil conflict, FAO said in its first edition of 'The State of Food Insecurity in the World', released last week. The report said the proportion of undernourished people in Burundi rose from 38 percent in 1980 to 63 percent in 1996, the largest increase in all of central, eastern and southern Africa. Average daily food intake fell during the same period from 2,020 calories to 1,669 calories, which was "far below minimum requirements," the report said.

Burundi's annual population growth rate of 2.7 percent had strained the country's limited land resources "to the breaking point", and more than 80 percent of its fragile, mountainous land was severely degraded, it stated. While the country was now almost completely dependent on domestic food production, solutions to its food security problems "must be found outside agriculture," the report said. [The full report is available at]

RWANDA: 300,000 children in homes without adults

An estimated 300,000 children living on their own in homes without permanent adult supervision remain among the most vulnerable people in Rwanda, a UNICEF official said on Tuesday. "They lack family support and are fending for themselves. Most live in appalling conditions," the official told IRIN. "Often, the household head is over 18 - maybe 20 or 21 years old - but that doesn't make the children living there less at risk", he said. In 90 percent of cases, the households were headed by either a girl or young woman, without a source of income. While the situation was a direct result of the 1994 genocide, there was concern that the number of child-headed households in the country was now increasing due to the impact of HIV/AIDS, he added.

UNICEF and its NGO partners were currently providing assistance to only a segment of the child- and youth-headed households in Rwanda, the official said, adding that a recent US $1.4 million contribution from the UNICEF national committees of the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland would be used to increase the number of children reached. "Their future is very bleak, and that's why they require continuous support from governments and the international community," the official told IRIN.

RWANDA: ICTR dismisses Barayagwiza defence motions

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, on Monday rejected a motion calling for South African judge Nevanethem Pillay and Senegalese judge Laity Kama to be disqualified from the case against former foreign ministry adviser Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported on Tuesday. Defence counsel Justry Patrice Lumumba Nyaberi said the two judges had, in the trial of former Rwandan mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu, "expressed themselves on the role of RTLM [Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines] and the CDR [extremist Hutu party] in the 1994 massacres" and therefore "could not be neutral with regard to Barayagwiza", who is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. The court also rejected a second defence motion seeking to postpone all future proceedings pending a decision on an appeal seeking Barayagwiza's release on the grounds that he was illegally arrested and detained in Cameroon in 1997.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government alleges UN inaction

The Kinshasa government has documented a series of alleged breaches of international law and violations of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement in a strongly-worded recent submission to the UN Security Council. In setting out what it called "a systematic pattern of violations" of the sovereignty of the DRC, it was trying to stir the international community to react to "the international mess caused by the aggressor states" of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, Congolese Minister for Human Rights Leonard She Okitundu stated. "The procrastination - not to say, shameful inaction - of the Security Council is at odds with its primary mission and with the scope of the problems to be resolved in the war-stricken Congolese provinces," the official letter stated.

DRC: Protest letter details "massive human rights violations"

In the document, the DRC government alleged that the "crimes against humanity" committed by what it called the Rwandan-Ugandan-Burundian coalition during the month of August included massacres at Kasala, Kongolo, Kimbumbu, Nonge and Sola, all in Katanga province; disruption of the national polio vaccination campaign during clashes between the Ugandan and Rwandan armies in Kisangani; and other "blatant, deliberate and massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law" in Katanga and Province Orientale.

DRC: Journalist's continuing detention criticised

Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has criticised the year-long detention without trial by the Kinshasa government of journalist Joseph Mbakulu Pambu Diana, director of the private station Radio-TV Matadi. "The imprisonment of Pambu Diana is a clear violation of the internationally recognised right of journalists to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds," a CPJ press release stated. Pambu Diana was charged in the non-jury Court of Military Order with conspiracy after alleged collaboration with rebels who had seized the town of Matadi in August 1998. The town was subsequently recaptured by government-allied forces.

UGANDA: Mining prohibited for DRC-based troops

A Ugandan military official confirmed on Monday that President Yoweri Museveni has directed all Ugandan troops posted in the DRC to refrain from engaging in mining activities. Ugandan radio last Friday quoted Congolese rebel faction leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba as saying Museveni had told Ugandan troops not to "go anywhere around the mines and not to be involved in mine deals, but to concentrate on the work that took them there." The military official contacted by IRIN said it was "true" Museveni had warned the soldiers not to get involved in other activities since they were in the DRC only on account of their country's "security concerns". "One or two undisciplined soldiers who were caught in the mess have faced the wrath of the law," he said.

UGANDA: Two reported killed in ADF attacks

At least two people were reported killed and four wounded in two separate attacks by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in western Uganda at the weekend. In the first attack on Saturday morning, rebels opened fire on a bus near the Mweya Safari Lodge junction on Mbarara-Kasese road, killing at least one civilian, news agencies reported on Monday. Rebels struck at the same spot on Sunday night, killing a local doctor in his own vehicle, AFP said. It quoted an army official as saying the ADF had carried out the attacks to distract the army from its operations against rebel bases in the Ruwenzori Mountains.

UGANDA/TANZANIA: Deported Ugandans "not refugees"

Some 200 Ugandans reportedly deported from Tanzania were "self-settled" in Tanzania and therefore not eligible for refugee assistance, officials from UNHCR and Uganda's Department of Refugees told IRIN. The 'Guardian' newspaper reported last week that the group had recently been deported from Tanzania's Kagera region, where many had lived for years, married Tanzanians and had children. It quoted the deportees as saying they had been forced by Tanzanian authorities to leave their possessions, wives and children behind. Some charged that their expulsion had been engineered by Rwanda, which accused them of "aiding Hutu refugees who are hostile to the Kigali regime," the newspaper reported.

Nairobi, 19 October 1999, 14:30 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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