IRIN-CEA Update 804 [19991118]

IRIN-CEA Update 804 [19991118]

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 804 for the Great Lakes (Thursday 18 November 1999)


DRC: Reports of massive emergency credit "premature" DRC: "Devastating" impact of fiscal policies DRC: OAU funding JMC in absence of donor cash RWANDA: Judges quash suspect's motion RWANDA: ICTR prosecutor to travel to Rwanda TANZANIA: Clearing period for Rwandan cargo to be reduced TANZANIA: Government tightens western border security BURUNDI: Hunger causing Muyinga residents to flee BURUNDI: Minister acknowledges difficulties BURUNDI: Lack of information causing concern BURUNDI: International community urged not to abandon Burundi

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Reports of massive emergency credit "premature"

The World Bank on Wednesday played down the possibility of a credit facility worth hundreds of millions of dollars as media reports had suggested, saying that it had just begun discussions on "resumed cooperation" with the DRC. It was premature to discuss what options might be available if this transpired, World Bank Country Economist for the DRC Eric Nelson told IRIN. A government plan for managing its arrears to the Bank, the IMF and the African Development Bank, and implementation of a macroeconomic strategy acceptable to the IMF were needed before the Bank could begin preparation for lending activities, possibly in the first quarter of next year, he said.

These activities "might include an emergency credit", but the level and form of this, and possible Bank assistance, depended "on the level and form of funding made available by other donors" for arrears stabilisation and investment. "No such credit has yet been discussed by the Bank, and it is premature to discuss what options will be chosen," Nelson said. Meanwhile, the Bank hoped the Friends of Congo donor trust fund for the DRC would be activated in the immediate future, he added.

DRC: "Devastating" impact of fiscal policies

Government enforcement of monetary measures announced in mid-September have had a "devastating impact" on businesses, the latest report from the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the DRC said. Under the new measures, the official exchange rate is applied for all transactions, the use of foreign currency is restricted and foreign businessmen are to provide a US $500,000 guarantee by the end of this year. Significant business closures and expatriate departures have contributed to a further shrinking of the local economy, the report said. The current official rate of 4.9 Congolese francs to one US dollar represented about 30 percent of the franc's market value, the report said. The relief community is "facing serious difficulties" because the monetary policies have resulted in a "three-fold increase in expenditures" for project activities, it said. Negotiations with the authorities have not resulted in any viable solutions thus far, it added. [The full report is available at]

DRC: OAU funding JMC in absence of donor cash

The OAU has released US $500,000 to allow the Joint Military Commission (JMC) to "take off" and begin the implementation a ceasefire in the DRC conflict, the OAU's head of conflict resolution, Sam Ibok, told IRIN on Wednesday. He said the OAU released the funds in the absence of money from other donors, with the exception of US $100,000 from Zambia, Ibok said. Pledges for the JMC have been made by South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Belgium, France, Germany, Britain, the US and the EC, but the cash has been slower to arrive.

RWANDA: Judges quash suspect's motion

Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Wednesday quashed former Rwandan interior minister Edouard Karemera's motion which sought to disqualify and replace judges Laity Kama and William Sekule on allegations of bias. The Internews agency said the court ruled the claims were "unfounded and without merit". Two other suspects, former Rwandan foreign minister Jerome-Clement Bicamumpaka and former official in the foreign affairs ministry Mathieu Ngirumpatse are also seeking the disqualification of ICTR judges.

RWANDA: ICTR prosecutor to travel to Rwanda

The chief prosecutor of the ICTR Carla del Ponte will travel to Rwanda over the weekend for a two-week visit to country, news organisations said quoting the deputy prosecutor Graham Blewitt at The Hague. Rwanda suspended its cooperation with ICTR in protest at its decision to free genocide suspect, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza. Blewitt termed the decision an isolated incident. "There's been this hiccup with the appeals chamber," he said. "I anticipate that ultimately there will be meetings in Kigali and a working relationship will be developed," AP quoted him as saying. Rwandan officials have said they will not meet del Ponte.

TANZANIA: Clearing period for Rwandan cargo to be reduced

Tanzanian Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye announced on Wednesday that the clearing period for Rwandan cargo in transit at Dar es Salaam port will be reduced from 21 days to seven days, Tanzanian radio reported. Sumaye was addressing participants at the Rwandan-Tanzanian commission meeting in Kigali aimed at discussing ways of ensuring the smooth delivery of Rwandan cargo passing through Tanzania. He said his government had taken this action to address Rwanda's concern over delays in handling its cargo at the port. Sumaye said Tanzanian railway services would also handle Rwandan transit goods efficiently and would meet the Rwandan government's requirement regarding the safe delivery of its cargo overland.

TANZANIA: Government tightens western border security

Meanwhile, Sumaye told Tanzanians living in Kigali that the government had tightened security along its western border to tackle the "crime wave that has hit the region". According to Tanzanian radio, he said criminal acts had increased in recent days in the area "near Tanzania's border with a neighbouring country". This had endangered the security of passengers and their property, he added. The government had urged local transporters to agree to police escorts and not to travel at night, he said. Sumaye also said the government was aware that some refugees who had refused to stay in their designated camps were behind criminal activities.

BURUNDI: Hunger causing Muyinga residents to flee, governor says

The governor of Burundi's northeastern Muyinga province, Lazare Karekezi, has said people are going to neighbouring Tanzania because of hunger due to a prolonged drought. In an interview with Burundi's Umwizero radio on Wednesday, he denied they were fleeing insecurity in the province. "There have been many people leaving in recent days for Tanzania," he said. "There is full security in our province. Some people have left because they do not have enough to eat. We have learned that these people are being well received upon arrival in Tanzania."

Official sources said Muyinga residents had started leaving for Tanzania last month because of problems in obtaining food, the Agence burundaise de presse reported earlier this month. "Everyone is asking why these people would leave a peaceful area to go to the Burundi refugee camps in Tanzania," the agency said. Local officials have warned of the scarcity of goods in the markets and of mounting thefts of food from fields or homes. ABP said there was a similar situation in neighbouring Kirundo province, where the high prices of food products were forcing people to flee across the border into Rwanda.

BURUNDI: Minister acknowledges difficulties

Burundi's Communal Development Minister Gaspard Ntirampeba has spoken of difficulties facing his ministry, following the scaling down of humanitarian activities in the country. He told the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) that before the killing of two UN workers in Rutana province last month, he was about to sign protocol agreements with a number of NGOs for various projects throughout the country. He urged the international community not to abandon Burundi in its hour of need.

BURUNDI: Lack of information causing concern

OCHA-Burundi, in its latest information bulletin, says 20 of 58 regroupment sites have so far been visited in Bujumbura Rural, and medical assistance has been delivered to 22 sites comprising 193,168 people. Thirteen sites were inaccessible for logistical reasons, the report said. OCHA-Burundi said the greatest issue of concern was lack of information due to access problems because of the security situation. It added that malnutrition was on the rise.

BURUNDI: International community urged not to abandon Burundi

The director of the NGO, CAFOD, has urged the international community not to turn its back on the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Burundi. In a statement, Julian Filochowski said a "human tragedy" was in the making "far away from the gaze of the media and the international community". "Over 320,000 people have been wrenched from their homes and are living in very basic and miserable conditions," he said. He noted the rising insecurity in the country and fears that the international community was pulling back. "The international community must not wash its hands of these countries just because there are no easy solutions," he said. "It must play its role as a facilitator of dialogue and reconciliation." CAFOD pledged an emergency grant of US $50,000 to support Caritas' work with the displaced.

Nairobi, 18 November 1999, 14:30 gmt


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

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