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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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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 42 covering the period 16 October - 22 October 1999
BURUNDI: Government suggests South African mediation BURUNDI: Deliberations after funeral BURUNDI: Civilian camp population tops 300,000 BURUNDI: Most people undernourished BURUNDI: France to press for resuming cooperation TANZANIA: Drop in new arrivals from Burundi RWANDA: Premier promises democratisation programme RWANDA: ICTR envoy on the work ahead RWANDA: Suspected meningitis outbreak under control RWANDA: 300,000 children in homes without adults DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Ministers seek faster UN deployment DRC: Annan urges sides to abide by truce DRC: Tension reported within RCD-Goma DRC: Mercenaries protect mining facilities DRC: France considering renewal of cooperation GREAT LAKES: France suggests regional peace conference UGANDA: Kazini moved to western Uganda UGANDA: Polio campaign successful UGANDA: Government slams human rights report REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Pro-Lissouba officers freed ROC: Mercenary enquiry called "frivolous" CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Opposition refuses to join new government CAR: No funds for demobilisation effort SUDAN: Annan welcomes ceasefire SUDAN: Over 1.6 million people affected by Khartoum floods ETHIOPIA/ERITREA: De Mello visits DJIBOUTI: IMF approves ESAF loan for Djibouti SOMALIA: WFP condemns continued violence against aid workers SOMALIA: Vulnerability in Bay and Bakol
BURUNDI: Government suggests South African mediation
The government has proposed that South Africa take over mediation of the Arusha-based Burundi peace process following the death last week of the talks' facilitator, former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere. In a statement received by IRIN on Tuesday, the government reiterated its support for the peace talks, but said it was important "to correct a number of weaknesses observed in the methodology and management" of the negotiations. A new facilitator should be appointed "without delay" and should be assisted by two or three deputies, it said.
BURUNDI: Deliberations after funeral
Meanwhile, an official from the Nyerere Foundation, Mark Bomani, told IRIN on Tuesday that the last group of delegates from the Burundian parties participating in the Arusha talks were due to arrive in Tanzania later that day, but deliberations would only begin after Nyerere's funeral on Saturday.
BURUNDI: Civilian camp population tops 300,000
The number of civilians in 53 regroupment camps guarded by the military in Bujumbura Rural has now passed 300,000 and relief agencies were increasingly concerned for the welfare of camp residents, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Friday. While lack of food and drinking water, coupled with continuing rains, were a real problem in the camps, the most worrying prospect was of epidemics sweeping through, the sources said. A UN security team that has been assessing the situation inside Burundi since last week's Rutana killings was due to finish its work on Friday, with a security meeting scheduled for Bujumbura in the evening. Meanwhile, the situation continued to be confusing and frustrating for relief workers. "The needs are still there, and probably greater than ever," one relief worker told IRIN.
BURUNDI: Most people undernourished
Undernourishment has increased sharply and food production has fallen as Burundi struggles to cope with rapid population growth, severe land degradation and simmering civil conflict, FAO said in its first edition of 'The State of Food Insecurity in the World', released last week. The report said the proportion of undernourished people in Burundi rose from 38 percent in 1980 to 63 percent in 1996, the largest increase in all of central, eastern and southern Africa.
BURUNDI: France to press for resuming cooperation
French Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin has suggested that European countries should not await the signing of a peace accord in Arusha before resuming aid to Burundi. "I will have to try also to convince my European colleagues to try and look at things a bit differently regarding the situation in Burundi," he told Radio France Internationale during a one-day visit to Bujumbura on Wednesday.
TANZANIA: Drop in new arrivals from Burundi
The number of new arrivals from Burundi into camps in Tanzania, which had increased at the start of the month, dropped significantly by 10 October, WFP said in its latest emergency update. The drop is attributed partly to the strong Burundi military presence at the border with Tanzania, preventing any movement from Burundi to Tanzania.
RWANDA: Premier promises democratisation programme
Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema on Thursday said that, after local elections held early this year, the government would, over the next four years, embark on the organisation of elections at communal, prefectural, parliamentary and, later, presidential level to assure the democratisation of the country. He said that for meaningful democracy to take root, the economy must also be improved, and the government particularly intended to boost food production and promote the tourism industry, Radio Rwanda reported.
RWANDA: ICTR envoy on the work ahead
The Rwandan government's special envoy to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Martin Ngoga, has said he hopes to influence the court in a bid to improve its performance, the Hirondelle news agency reported. Speaking during a preliminary visit to the tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, Ngoga said there was a "gap" between his government and the ICTR even though the tribunal was supposed to see that justice was done for Rwanda. "This void led to a lack of information and my appointment, essentially, is aimed at blocking the gap," he told journalists last week.
RWANDA: Suspected meningitis outbreak under control
An outbreak of suspected meningitis in Gitarama and Kigali Rurale prefectures that claimed the lives of some 40 people in September and early October was "currently under control", with the number of cases and deaths decreasing, WHO announced on Wednesday.
RWANDA: 300,000 children in homes without adults
An estimated 300,000 children living on their own in homes without permanent adult supervision remain among the most vulnerable people in Rwanda, a UNICEF official said on Tuesday. "They lack family support and are fending for themselves. Most live in appalling conditions," the official told IRIN. UNICEF and its NGO partners were currently providing assistance to only a segment of the child- and youth-headed households in Rwanda, the official said, adding that recent contributions from three UNICEF national committees would be used to increase the number of children reached.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Ministers seek faster UN deployment
The ministerial-level Political Committee established under the Lusaka ceasefire agreement has called on the UN to address the situation in the DRC with "the urgency and seriousness it deserves", news agencies reported. The committee, which met in the Zambian capital Lusaka last Friday, expressed concern at the pace with which the UN was handling the request for the deployment of peacekeepers, which it said was slower than its response to similar situations in other parts of the world, the Panafrican News Agency (PANA) reported on Saturday.
DRC: Tension reported within RCD-Goma
Reports from eastern DRC have spoken of "tension" within the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD)-Goma faction. Sources in the region told IRIN there appeared to be an emerging split between a group supporting RCD leader Emile Ilunga and military commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane, and another group supporting security chief Bizima Karaha and Joseph Mudumbi who heads the territorial department.
DRC: Mercenaries protect mining facilities
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Use of Mercenaries, Enrique Bernales Ballesteros, said in his latest report that armed conflict continued in the DRC despite the Lusaka ceasefire accord. "In this connection, it has been reported that mercenary combatants are present on all fronts and in the forces of all the parties," the report stated. It said the mercenaries' primary interest appeared to be the diamond centre of Mbuji-Mayi in Kasai Oriental. The international security company, Defence Systems Limited, is said to be working with mercenaries to protect mining and petroleum facilities, the report added.
DRC: France considering renewal of cooperation
French Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin on Friday announced that France planned to renew "real cooperation" with the DRC, which had been "subject to a de facto embargo for almost 10 years", AFP said. The minister also announced that France had contributed about US $666,000 to the establishment of the Joint Military Commission (JMC), which is overseeing implementation of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement.
DRC: Annan urges sides to abide by truce
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the warring sides in DRC to abide by the ceasefire to allow a polio immunisation campaign to proceed. In a statement on Tuesday, he reminded the sides of their obligations under the Lusaka accord. The third and final round of polio immunisation is due to take place from 20-28 October.
GREAT LAKES: France suggests regional peace conference
France has again mooted the idea of a Great Lakes conference, envisaged during the Africa-France summit last December, which "should be able to examine all the key issues for peace, the security of borders, democracy and development". Cooperation Minister Charles Josselin said he was hopeful it could take place, possibly in Nairobi, "within a reasonable time frame", a press release received by IRIN on Friday stated.
UGANDA: Kazini moved to western Uganda
The Ugandan army's chief-of-staff and former head of military operations in DRC, James Kazini, has reportedly set up his headquarters in Kasese, western Uganda. According to the semi-official 'New Vision' daily, Kazini now oversees operations against the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the western region after being recalled from his post in DRC. He has been replaced in DRC by Major General Jeje Odongo.
UGANDA: Polio campaign successful
Uganda's four year-old national polio immunisation campaign has formally come to an end, after reaching 90 percent of targeted children. The manager of the Uganda National Expanded Programme for Immunisation, John Barenzi, told IRIN on Thursday there was now "no justifiable need to continue with the campaign". "We have done well and have reached a huge percentage of the population," he said.
UGANDA: Government slams human rights report
The Ugandan government has described a report by Human Rights Watch, which accused it of suppressing political activity, as "illogical and under-researched". Uganda's Senior Presidential Adviser in charge of Media and Public Relations John Nagenda told IRIN on Monday the author of the report, Peter Bouchaert, "did not conduct a serious or thorough research and based his arguments on personal feelings".
REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Pro-Lissouba officers freed
Twelve senior officers and a high ranking magistrate imprisoned for two years without trial for having backed deposed president Pascal Lissouba were released in a public ceremony last Friday, news reports said. Observers said the releases were a further positive sign of progress towards sustainable peace in the country.
ROC: Mercenary enquiry called "frivolous"
A government representative on Thursday rejected the latest findings of the UN special rapporteur on the use of mercenaries, terming his enquiry "frivolous." In his latest report, released last month, the rapporteur, Enrique Bernales Ballesteros, said the situation in the Republic of Congo had "steadily worsened after two years of armed conflicts." Civil resistance had been harshly put down by the government "to the point where the situation has given rise to reports of ethnic extermination in South Brazzaville, South Congo and the Pool region."
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Opposition refuses to join new government
The opposition Union des forces acquises a la paix (UFAP) has said it will not take part in the new government of President Ange-Felix Patasse, Gabonese radio reported. The party said experience had shown that under the previous presidential term, "all the actions that were undertaken have never been completed".
CAR: No funds for demobilisation effort
No clear positive response has been received yet from donors in support of a UN programme for the demobilisation and reintegration of members of the CAR armed forces, an official from the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) told IRIN on Thursday. "A deficit of US $3.6 million has put the project in a critical situation," the official said. The restructuring of the armed forces is considered crucial for long-term stability in the country.
SUDAN: Annan welcomes ceasefire
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week welcomed the decision of the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) to extend their ceasefire - which was due to expire on 15 October - for another three months. In a statement, Annan urged the parties to the conflict to "redouble their efforts" to secure a "comprehensive and lasting peace".
SUDAN: Over 1.6 million people affected by Khartoum floods
More than 1.6 million people were affected by the August floods in the Elbugaa, El Ameer, El Salam and West Suburb areas of Khartoum State, according to an OCHA report, issued this month. It said more than 30,000 houses were destroyed and an equal number damaged.
ETHIOPIA/ERITREA: De Mello visits
Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin decried the plight of populations displaced by the Ethiopia-Eritrean conflict and claimed that more than 150,000 land mines had been planted in his country. He told visiting UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Sergio Vieira de Mello that this was "hindering" the return of farmers to their villages. De Mello urged Ethiopia to be "generous and grand and ... overcome doubts and reservations so as not to allow the peace process to slow down". De Mello also visited Eritrea, where he discussed the war situation with President Isayas Afewerki.
DJIBOUTI: IMF approves ESAF loan for Djibouti
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday approved a three-year loan of about US $26.5 million for Djibouti, under its Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF). A statement from the organisation said the loan will support the government's three-year economic reform programme which began in July 1999.
SOMALIA: WFP condemns continued violence against aid workers
WFP on Wednesday condemned continued violence against aid workers in Somalia, after two staff members came under fire while overseeing food distributions at El Buur. In a statement, WFP said Tuesday's incident came barely four days after a convoy carrying WFP food was attacked by gunmen near Mahadday north of Mogadishu. "These incidents are completely unacceptable," WFP's Regional Director for Africa Mohamed Zejjari said.
SOMALIA: Vulnerability in Bay and Bakol
On the military front, an uneasy calm currently prevails in Bay and Bakol regions, which have been among the worst-hit in almost a decade of conflict in Somalia. But the cumulative impact of conflict, together with continuing drought and successive poor harvests, has left 300,000 people in need of urgent relief and some 73,000 acutely affected in the most vulnerable areas. Dr Abbas, the only doctor in Baidoa hospital, the main facility in a catchment area of some 200,000 people, told IRIN that while most of his patients had gunshot wounds or had been in motor accidents, almost all were also malnourished.
Nairobi, 22 October 1999, 15:00 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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