UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
ROC-CAR: IRIN News Briefs, 12 October
REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Over 800,000 displaced and returned persons
The UN Country Team (UNCT) in the Republic of Congo has produced new working estimates for the total number of displaced and recently returned persons, putting the figure at 810,000. This number includes both former urban and rural dwellers, mainly inside the country but also including some refugees. Of these, the team said some 340,000 former urban residents were displaced in December 1998 and January 1999 - 200,000 have returned, including 150,000 to Brazzaville. It added that a further 140,000 former urban residents have yet to return and remain in the forest and other rural areas in "very difficult humanitarian conditions".
Another 440,000 rural dwellers are reportedly displaced within the four most affected regions of Pool, Bouenza, Niari, Lekoumou and also in the coastal town of Pointe Noire. There are additionally some 30,000 refugees outside the country in the DRC and Gabon.
Meanwhile, the team said tens of thousands more people in rural areas are not displaced but are "seriously affected" by prolonged food shortages, lack of clean water, and lack of access to health care services. The UNCT said the figures are still rudimentary but are being "steadily improved".
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: UN mandate extended
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) to enable it to continue providing assistance in the implementation of "major reforms" and national reconciliation. The mandate was due to end 15 November, and has been extended to 15 February 2000.
In his latest report on MINURCA, Annan said the mission's stay would also facilitate coordination with relevant UN agencies and programmes and the Bretton Woods institutions. Annan said the military component would continue to discharge its present security functions in Bangui and would gradually hand over to local security and law enforcement forces. "The proposed transition would also allow MINURCA to complete a six-month training course for 180 local police recruits," Annan said.
In order to facilitate this period, he said, "a serious and concerted effort" will be required to speed up the programme of demobilisation and reintegration of soldiers. Along with the restructuring of the armed forces, those activities will obviously require additional financial support from the international community, he said.
Reduction of MINURCA to be conducted in stages
Annan proposed that the reduction of MINURCA be conducted in stages, with the first batch of three infantry companies departing Bangui by mid-December 1999. He added that to finalise the possible mandate and requirements of a post-conflict peace-building presence of the UN in CAR, a small multi-disciplinary mission will be dispatched to Bangui, led by the Department of Political Affairs and UNDP. "The mission will proceed on the assumption that in accordance with the wishes of the authorities of the Central African republic, the United Nations will maintain a presence in the country following the termination of the mandate of MINURCA," he said.
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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