IRIN-CEA Update 803 [19991117]

IRIN-CEA Update 803 [19991117]

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 803 for the Great Lakes (Wednesday 17 November 1999)


DRC: Insurgent groups strengthen links DRC: Continued Rwandan-Ugandan tensions, clashes DRC: "Neutral investigators" to kickstart ceasefire implementation DRC: "Implementation committees" to tackle problems at local level DRC: UN set to deploy military liaison officers DRC: "Frustration, but no guilt", UN says DRC: New momentum in relationship with aid donors DRC: Plane explodes in Mbandaka DRC: IDP estimate reaches 916,000 DRC: Cholera outbreaks hit several areas DRC: Polio campaign a "major achievement" RWANDA: Kigali envoy to defer ICTR post RWANDA: Tanzanian premier visiting RWANDA: Proposed defence cut "negligible" TANZANIA: Burundi refugee influx reaches 500 a day

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Insurgent groups strengthen links

A worsening security climate has reduced aid agencies' access to vulnerable populations in war-affected areas of the DRC, humanitarian and security sources said. Various armed groups with national and regional links had recently intensified their military activities, resulting in a heavy death toll among civilians. Links between the Mayi-Mayi, Interahamwe, rebels of the Burundi Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD) and ex-FAR elements had been reinforced over the past few months, with several well-organised and coordinated attacks launched on major towns in eastern DRC, the sources stated. Meanwhile, intensified fighting in parts of Angola had led to a deterioration of the security situation in the southwestern provinces of Bandundu and Bas-Congo, with incursions of both UNITA rebels and Angolan army troops reported in Bas-Congo, they added.

DRC: Continued Rwandan-Ugandan tensions, clashes

Continued tension between the Goma-based Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) and the RCD-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) rebel factions and their Rwandan and Ugandan backers was another cause of insecurity in eastern DRC, the sources told IRIN on Wednesday. They said troop movements in the east had taken place throughout September and October, and frequent clashes between Ugandan and Rwandan troops were reported in the Kanyabayonga area of North Kivu during October. After most Ugandan troops withdrew from Kisangani following the August clashes with Rwandan forces in the city, they had taken strategic positions in the interior of Province Orientale, and "the population of Kisangani lives in fear of a new clash", one source said.

DRC: "Neutral investigators" to kickstart ceasefire implementation

The OAU has deployed eight "neutral investigators" to the government-held town of Kabinda and intends to have all 30 of its investigators on the ground by Friday to monitor compliance with the terms of the Lusaka ceasefire, OAU conflict resolution chief Sam Ibok told IRIN on Wednesday. "Without means of verification, you're bound to have incidents, claims and counter-claims ... We're now in a position to monitor compliance, to see who's doing what, at least in some critical areas," Ibok said. This "confidence-building deployment" would, for the first time, fully establish the ceasefire with the combatants on the ground and "provide a way of helping to resolve problems locally", he added.

DRC: "Implementation committees" to tackle problems at local level

The 30 investigators - from Nigeria, Senegal, Algeria and Malawi - would be attached to the regional operational zones of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) at Kabinda, Boende, Lissala and Kabalo, Ibok said. Their investigations into alleged violations would be discussed with "implementation committees", comprising the warring sides in the regional JMCs, in order to thrash out responsibility and decide on remedial actions. Reports and unresolved problems would then be passed to the JMC in Lusaka, which in turn would report to the OAU and UN, Ibok said. On the political side, there was also some hope of a breakthrough on the acceptance of a facilitator for the inter-Congolese political dialogue (provided for in the Lusaka accord) during a round of meetings to start in Lusaka on Friday.

DRC: UN set to deploy military liaison officers

The UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) is expected to deploy its military liaison officers (MLOs) in locations in the east of the country from Monday, MONUC spokeswoman Diane Bailey told IRIN on Wednesday. A UN technical survey team assessing conditions on the ground in preparation for the MLOs' deployment was still in the field but its mission was "proceeding normally" and the deployment was expected to go ahead in those areas surveyed, she said.

The technical survey team visited Gbadolite and Goma early in the week before moving on to Kisangani for a full day's logistical appraisal on Wednesday. From there, it was due to proceed to Bukavu and Kananga before returning to Kinshasa on Friday or Saturday, Bailey said. The survey team, comprising six civilians and four military staff, had met rebel leaders and experienced no problems with cooperation during its field mission, she added.

DRC: "Frustration, but no guilt", UN says

The UN Security Council held informal discussions on the DRC on Tuesday, including the deployment of the UN technical survey team and talks between President Laurent-Desire Kabila and UN special representative Moustapha Niasse. UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters that delays in deploying UN personnel had resulted from lack of permission and security guarantees from the DRC government. "There may be some frustration, but no guilt," he said of the UN's handling of the situation. The ceasefire, though shaky, was now showing some results, he added. "We keep plodding ahead here, two steps forward, one step back," Eckhard said.

DRC: New momentum in relationship with aid donors

A high-level delegation of World Bank and IMF officials, together with representatives of other UN agencies and donor countries, has concluded a 10-day appraisal mission to the DRC and raised the prospect of renewing formal contacts with, and post-conflict relief to, the country, a UN official told IRIN on Wednesday. The two Bretton Woods institutions, along with most bilateral donors, cut off aid to what was then Zaire in the early 1990s, amid international criticism of the late president Mobutu Sese Seko.

Among the achievements of the 3-14 November mission was to set up "a timetable of discussions" between the government and the World Bank-IMF, the official said. This would include the resumption of aid and the DRC's integration into the international financial system. A thorough technical exercise was scheduled to follow in February 2000, the official said. Discussions on DRC's debt arrears, estimated at US $14 billion, were still "very preliminary", but the Bretton Woods bodies were expected to come back quickly with proposals on a community support programme worth up to US $400 million. They were also expected to establish "a small presence" in Kinshasa to assure continuity in the current rapprochement with DRC, the official added.

DRC: Plane explodes in Mbandaka

A Congolese military plane exploded on the runway in the western government-held town of Mbandaka last week, killing 12 people and injuring the DRC air force chief General Faustin Munene, news organisations reported. They cited aviation sources and military officials as saying the incident occurred last Thursday as the plane, an Antonov 12, was being prepared for a bombing raid. No further details were immediately available, although Reuters cited an aviation source as saying the Antonov was one of five planes recently bought by the DRC government to convert into bombers.

DRC: IDP estimate reaches 916,000

The number of internally-displaced people (IDPs) in DRC is now estimated at 916,000, according to the latest report from the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the DRC. The IDP figure is about 86,000 higher than the previous estimate as a result of the Hema-Lendu ethnic conflict in Ituri and the volatile security situation in the Haut Uele district of Province Orientale, the report said. New population movements were also reported in the Walikale area of North Kivu and the Mongala area of Equateur, while some IDPs in South Kivu had returned to their home communities, it said.

DRC: Cholera outbreaks hit several areas

The epidemiological situation has significantly deteriorated throughout the DRC, particularly in the eastern provinces, the Humanitarian Coordinator's report said. Outbreaks of cholera were reported in the Walungu, Lemera, Uvira and Katana areas of South Kivu, in parts of North Kivu and Province Orientale, and in Kinshasa. Mortality rates had reached almost 12 percent but, as a result of the timely interventions of relief agencies in cholera-affected areas, the rates had gone down significantly, it said. A meningitis epidemic in Lubumbashi in mid-October was contained with the support of MSF and WHO, the report added.

DRC: Polio campaign a "major achievement"

Meanwhile, preliminary results from the third round of the national polio immunisation campaign indicate that over 85 percent of the target population was reached, the report said. The last of the country's National Immunisation Days (NIDs), conducted from 22-24 October, sought to immunise children who were not covered during the first two rounds earlier this year. It also included measles vaccination and distribution of vitamin A supplements. The campaign, organised by UNICEF, WHO and their partners, aimed to vaccinate some 10 million children under five years of age as part of global polio eradication efforts. "Although the final cumulative results of the vaccination campaign are still to be analysed, it is already now clear that the NIDs were among the major achievements of the relief community in 1999," the report stated.

RWANDA: Kigali envoy to defer ICTR post

Kigali's representative to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) Martin Ngoga has said he will not take up his post until the case of genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza has been resolved. In an interview with the Hirondelle news agency on Monday he said there was "nothing to negotiate" between the ICTR and the Rwandan government. "What we want is that Barayagwiza be made to answer for his crimes," he said. The Tribunal ordered the release of Barayagwiza earlier this month on the grounds his rights had been violated by procedural issues. "Barayagwiza can only be declared innocent if he has been tried," Ngoga added.

RWANDA: Tanzanian premier visiting

Tanzanian Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye, who is on a three-day visit to Rwanda, has said the 1994 genocide should serve as a lesson to African countries to live in unity and forget tribal, religious and racial differences, Tanzanian radio reported. The premier, who arrived in the country on Tuesday, also told journalists Tanzania could not influence the decisions of the ICTR. According to Rwandan radio, Sumaye held talks with his Rwandan counterpart Pierre-Celestin Rwigema during which they discussed bilateral cooperation, particularly in the transport sector. Rwigema hailed the establishment of an inland port at Isaka in northern Tanzania, which would ease transport problems to Rwanda.

RWANDA: Proposed defence cut "negligible"

Observers say a proposed cut in Rwanda's defence budget of 62 million Rwandan francs (US $177,000) out of a total 29 billion RF (US $83 million) is "negligible". Finance Minister Donald Kaberuka presented his draft budget to parliament last week, which also provided for an increase in development spending to promote the social welfare of Rwandans, according to Rwandan radio. The minister proposed "voluntary contributions" to ensure security was maintained in the country. One observer told IRIN it was likely these contributions would overtake the 62 million RF cut, leading to a probable increase in defence spending.

TANZANIA: Burundi refugee influx reaches 500 a day

UNHCR in Tanzania is making contingency plans for a "major refugee influx" from Burundi as the security situation there worsens. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said on Tuesday that some 500 people a day were now streaming across the border into Tanzania, up from 400 a day reported last week. Since the beginning of November, more than 7,000 Burundians had fled to Tanzania, almost as many as in the entire month of October, he said. "They show signs of fatigue and some are malnourished," Janowski said. UNHCR is negotiating with the Tanzanian authorities on the expansion of refugee sites, he added.

Nairobi, 17 November 1999, 14:40 gmt


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

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