IRIN-CEA Update 794 [19991104]

IRIN-CEA Update 794 [19991104]

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 794 for the Great Lakes (Thursday 4 November 1999)


DRC: Some 6,000 deaths in war's first year DRC: Government bombings "deplorable", Garreton says DRC: Plight of child soldiers DRC: Minister says "no occupation" next century DRC: Lubumbashi university professor detained DRC: POW agreement signed BURUNDI: Nyangoma's CNDD rejects South African mediation BURUNDI: Pope calls for peace RWANDA: Five dead in cholera outbreak RWANDA: Two sentenced to death for genocide UGANDA: Army overruns ADF hideouts

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Some 6,000 deaths in war's first year

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the DRC, Roberto Garreton, has said that by the end of the first year of the conflict, it was estimated some 6,000 people had lost their lives, many of them civilians killed in retaliation for Mayi-Mayi or Interahamwe attacks on RCD-controlled towns. Another 500 people remained missing, according to his latest report, issued on Tuesday. Garreton, who visited the DRC twice over the year, said civilians remained hostile towards the RCD, and an "atmosphere of terror" prevailed in rebel areas. The war was perceived as foreign aggression, "both within and outside the occupied zone", he added.

DRC: Government bombings "deplorable", Garreton says

Meanwhile, the bombing of civilian populations in Kisangani, Goma, Uvira and other rebel-held towns was among the most "deplorable" acts carried out by the government and its allies in 1999, Garreton said. In addition, the government had resumed the practice of public executions, with over 100 reported during the year. Journalists, political leaders and human rights activists among others were "constantly being arrested for no apparent reason", and there were many reports of women and girls being raped in prisons and during military operations. The transition to democracy, which Kabila said in 1997 would take two years, has not yet begun. "The human right to democracy has not been restored, and there is no indication that it will be recognized in the near future," Garreton stated.

DRC: Plight of child soldiers

Some 6,000 children are in military service in government-controlled territory, and the use of children in warfare is even more frequent in the case of the RCD, Garreton said in his report. There has been no reduction in the number of child soldiers in areas controlled by the RCD or the MLC, he added. "The end of the recruitment of children cannot be delayed," he said. The initiative of the DRC government to convene a pan-African conference in November on the demobilisation of child soldiers should be supported, Garreton recommended.

DRC: Minister says "no occupation" next century

Foreign Minister Yerodia Abdoulaye Ndombasi has stressed his country will not tolerate any "occupation" in the next century, state television reported. Addressing reporters in Kinshasa, he said: "We will not enter the 21st century as an occupied and humiliated country". "We have waited for too long. Those whose duty it is to help achieve peace must hear this, and they should hurry up so that Rwandans, Ugandans and Burundians...get away from the DRC," Yerodia added.

DRC: Lubumbashi university professor detained

The administrative secretary-general of Lubumbashi University, Professor Radja Bin Saidi, has been held by the authorities since 28 October when he was arrested at his home by members of the Police d'intervention rapide (PIR), according to the Lubumbashi-based rights organisation, Centre des droits de l'homme et du droit humanitaire (CDH). In a statement, received by IRIN, the CDH said the professor was taken away at night to the 4th military region and his detention "has gone beyond legal limits". No reasons were given for the detention.

DRC: POW agreement signed

Parties involved in the DRC conflict on Wednesday signed an agreement in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, paving the way for the release and exchange of prisoners of war (POWs). An ICRC spokesman told IRIN it was now up to each of the governments involved to notify it of the number and names of the POWs they are holding so it can help arrange their release. He confirmed that ICRC officers had been visiting Rwandan POWs detained in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwean soldiers held captive in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. [For full story see separate IRIN item of 3 November, entitled "ZIMBABWE-DRC: Prisoner of war agreement signed"]

BURUNDI: Nyangoma's CNDD rejects South African mediation

The rebel CNDD faction of Leonard Nyangoma has rejected any possible South African mediation in the Burundi peace process. In a statement, received by IRIN on Thursday, CNDD claimed that meetings between the government and the rival CNDD-FDD faction had been held on South African soil over the past year. It accused South Africa of "assisting the military regime in its attempts to divide the opposition". The statement, signed by Nyangoma, said CNDD did not consider that South Africa met the conditions of "neutrality, balance and impartiality" to take on the facilitation of the peace process.

BURUNDI: Pope calls for peace

Pope John Paul II on Wednesday called for peace in Burundi and said Burundian refugees should be allowed to go home and humanitarian agencies should be given access countrywide. News organisations quoted him as telling his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square the future of a country "is not prepared by the forced displacement of people, nor by violence and armed conflict".

RWANDA: Five dead in cholera outbreak

WHO says five people have died of cholera in the northwest prefecture of Ruhengeri, and a further 140 have been hospitalised. The epidemic, which broke out last month, has particularly affected the communes of Cyabingo, Nyakinama and Kigombe, but the situation is under control, a WHO information bulletin said.

RWANDA: Two sentenced to death for genocide

Two people convicted of genocide crimes were sentenced to death at their trial in Rushashi, northern Rwanda, Rwandan radio reported. Two others were sentenced to life imprisonment and a further two received 20 year jail terms.

UGANDA: Army overruns ADF hideouts

The Ugandan army has reportedly overrun four hideouts of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Semiliki national park, in the western Bundibugyo district, the 'New Vision' reported on Thursday. It cited military sources as saying the rebels were hiding in the areas of Nsuru and Kibuku.

Nairobi, 4 November 1999, 14:20 gmt


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

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