IRIN-CEA Update 795 [19991106]

IRIN-CEA Update 795 [19991106]

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 795 for the Great Lakes (Friday 5 November 1999)


RWANDA: ICTR orders release of genocide suspect RWANDA: ICTR judges end visit BURUNDI: Bleak food outlook DRC: MSF nurse forced to treat Interahamwe DRC: Government "preparing people for war" DRC: "Desolation and displacement", UN says DRC: Ilunga accuses Kabila of breaching Lusaka accord DRC: UN accepts conditional DRC security guarantees DRC: Annan to present peacekeeping recommendations "within weeks" DRC: Humanitarian staff to deploy alongside military observers DRC: Consolidated appeal still severely underfunded

RWANDA: ICTR orders release of genocide suspect

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has ordered the immediate unconditional release of defendant Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, according to an ICTR press release. Barayagwiza - formerly director of political affairs in the foreign ministry and a founding member of extremist RTLM radio - had appealed against the "violation of his fundamental rights by prolonging his detention without trial, mainly as a result of actions by the prosecutor". The Chamber upheld his appeal and ordered that the necessary arrangements be made to return him to Cameroon, where he was arrested in 1997. At his initial appearance in February 1998, Barayagwiza had pleaded not guilty to six counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. An ICTR spokesman told IRIN on Friday the Chamber had ordered that all the charges against Barayagwiza be dismissed "with prejudice to the prosecutor", and it was doubtful whether he could be re-arrested on the same charges.

RWANDA: ICTR judges end visit

ICTR judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers on Thursday ended their first official visit to Rwanda, news organisations reported. They had spent three days visiting areas of the western Kibuye prefecture at the request of defence lawyers for defendant, Ignace Bagilishema - the former mayor of Mabanza commune in Kibuye. Rwanda's representative to the tribunal Martin Ngoga expressed satisfaction with the visit, according to the Hirondelle news agency. He said Rwanda believed the judges were better able to render justice if they saw the massacre sites for themselves.

BURUNDI: Bleak food outlook

The FAO has warned of a serious threat of starvation among regrouped people unless security is restored and humanitarian assistance resumes. In a news alert issued on Friday, it expressed concern over the food and health situation of regrouped populations. "Only a limited number of people have access to their fields at a time when the first cropping season has already started." In addition, crop prospects for the September 1999-January 2000 season were affected by unfavourable weather. Dry weather had delayed crop planting, which normally starts mid-September to mid-October. A reduced harvest this season would follow a below-normal harvest last season. It was expected the already tight supply of cereals and pulses, which had resulted in high prices, would deteriorate still further in the coming months.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: MSF nurse forced to treat Interahamwe

Interahamwe militia in South Kivu last month attacked an MSF vehicle and forced an MSF nurse into the forest to provide medical aid to a group of Interahamwe in hiding, a spokesperson for the NGO told IRIN on Friday. The incident took place around 23 October when the nurse and a driver were on their way to Walungu to deliver vaccines for the national polio immunisation campaign. The two were "robbed, beaten and threatened with death by Interahamwe militia", who accused MSF of "working for the Tutsi authorities," the spokesperson said. The nurse, who told the attackers that MSF was a neutral humanitarian organisation, was released about an hour later, she said.

DRC: Government "preparing people for war"

The DRC government appears to have embarked on a propaganda campaign in an apparent bid to prepare people for the possible resumption of fighting, analysts told IRIN on Friday. Government ministers have been issuing strong warnings to Rwanda and rebels in the east that the DRC will not go into the next century as an "occupied" country. Now, according to Gabonese radio reporting from Kinshasa, slogans have been appearing on giant billboards in the city declaring "peace has to be earned". "People are no doubt being prepared psychologically," the radio observed. It recalled that President Laurent-Desire Kabila had launched a massive programme to recruit and rearm the military. The radio also cited observers as saying reinforcements were being sent to the various fronts. "In Kinshasa, people fear there will be widespread clashes," it added.

DRC: "Desolation and displacement", UN says

Decades of misrule followed by successive waves of fighting has resulted in an acute humanitarian situation in the DRC, according to the DRC UN Humanitarian Coordinator Darioush Bayandor. He told a press briefing in New York on Thursday there were over 800,000 displaced people and 150,000 refugees who had gone to other countries. In addition, the country was hosting some 200,000 foreign refugees. The situation was characterised by "desolation and displacement", and humanitarian activities were restricted by funding constraints, he said.

DRC: Ilunga accuses Kabila of breaching Lusaka accord

Rebel RCD leader Emile Ilunga has accused Kabila of a "partisan understanding" of the Lusaka ceasefire accord. In an interview with Radio France Internationale on Wednesday during a visit to Paris, he said Kabila had initiated a dialogue in Kinshasa "without respecting the spirit and letter" of the Lusaka deal. However, diplomatic sources told IRIN on Friday the current "national debate" underway in Kinshasa was separate from the "inter-Congolese dialogue" provided for by the Lusaka accord.

DRC: UN accepts conditional DRC security guarantees

The security guarantees document provided for UN military liaison officers (MLOs) in the DRC by the Kinshasa government - and which contained conditions and restrictions, including on freedom of movement - has been accepted after being examined by UN headquarters in New York, diplomatic sources told IRIN on Friday.

Meanwhile, officials from the UN observer mission to the Congo (MONUC) were due back in Kinshasa on Friday evening from the Joint Military Commission (JMC) meeting in Lusaka, which had reportedly made "some progress" on modalities for implementation of the ceasefire. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council this week that the JMC "needs and deserves support in order to function effectively", and proposed that the UN provide it with "the necessary logistical and other operational support".

DRC: Annan to present peacekeeping recommendations "within weeks"

After also recommending the deployment of up to 500 military observers, Annan said he envisaged returning to the Security Council "within the next few weeks" with "recommendations and a proposed mandate and concept for the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops". However, this would be "subject to further progress in the peace process", he said in a report to the Council. The military observers, with a much broader mandate than the MLOs currently in place, might also require the deployment of UN "formed units" to ensure their protection, Annan stated.

DRC: Humanitarian staff to deploy alongside military observers

Humanitarian and human rights concerns in the DRC meant that - in addition to military observers - political, human rights, child protection, civilian police, public information and humanitarian personnel would have to be deployed "at the earliest stage of the operations", Annan stated in his report to the Security Council. He particularly emphasised the importance of demobilising and reintegrating child soldiers, providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations, and facilitating the protection and safe resettlement of refugees and displaced people.

DRC: Consolidated appeal still severely underfunded

"Large numbers of civilians continue to be exposed to indiscriminate violence, looting and the destruction of property, including agriculture, in almost all parts of the country," Annan's report stated. Apart from access, the major constraint facing humanitarian operations was inadequate funding, he said, adding that the UN's US $81 million consolidated appeal for the DRC had still not attracted even a quarter of the funding required. "The humanitarian community hopes that the deployment of UN military and civilian personnel will allow confidence to be restored sufficiently so that commercial routes (by rail, air and the Congo River) may be reopened," Annan added.

Nairobi, 5 November 1999, 13:40 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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