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[The weekly roundup is based on IRIN daily updates and other relevant information from UN agencies, NGOs, governments, donors and the media. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.]
Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 44-98 covering the period 23-30 Oct 1998
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Talks end with no solution
Diplomatic efforts to end the DRC crisis continued after inconclusive peace talks ended in Lusaka, Zambia, on Tuesday without an agreement on a truce. A statement issued at the end of the two-day meeting said that foreign and defence ministers from 19 African countries had requested Zambian President Frederick Chiluba press on with regional consultations to try and end the conflict. The meeting reportedly produced a draft agreement on a ceasefire and a "mechanism" for rebel involvement in its implementation.
However, the rebels vowed to continue fighting until their demands for direct talks with President Laurent-Desire Kabila's government were met.
South African President Nelson Mandela held talks with Namibian President Sam Nujoma in Windhoek on Wednesday and then with rebel leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba in Pretoria on Thursday. After meeting with the Namibian leader, Mandela told reporters that both he and Nujoma were "committed" to the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops from the DRC, under UN and OAU supervision, but Nujoma said later his soldiers would only leave at Kabila's request.
Mandela and Zambian are due to participate in a summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria this weekend where the DRC conflict will be discussed, AFP reported.
US official begins regional tour
US Assistant Secretary of State for African affairs Susan Rice arrived in Angola on Wednesday to begin discussions with regional leaders on the faltering DRC peace process, news agencies said. State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday that Rice would express "deep concern about the widening conflict." He said the US had national interests in preventing the instability in the DRC from spreading, including "national resource needs."
Rice, who is accompanied by the US special envoy for the Great Lakes Howard Wolpe and national security council official Gayle Smith, will also travel to South Africa, DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda.
Katanga situation unclear
The military situation in the Kabalo area of Katanga province remains unclear with both the rebels and the government now claiming control of the town. Kinshasa also claims to have recaptured Nyunzu further east.+ Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports indicate that rebel-held Kalemie was bombed on Wednesday morning, but additional information on the report was not immediately available. According to humanitarian sources in Kinshasa, heavy fighting is taking place in Katanga. Many casualties are reported. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that some 800 displaced persons had arrived in Lubumbashi from the Kalemie, Nyunzu and Nyemba areas as of mid-October. Meanwhile, local health authorities reported having identified between 20,000 and 40,000 displaced people around Kabalo, Nyunzu, Nyemba, Manono and Ankoro in the province. Church sources in rebel-held Kisangani, Province Orientale, have identified tens of thousands of vulnerable people in the town. Very few goods are available on local markets, as the town has not been re-supplied since mid-August, the sources said.
Burundian refugees in poor shape
Burundian refugees in South Kivu are facing a "fairly serious humanitarian situation", humanitarian sources told IRIN this week. The refugees, hosted by the local population, were reported to be in poor health with high malnutrition rates registered, the sources said. UNHCR estimated in July that more than 11,000 Burundian refugees remained scattered in various areas of South Kivu, mainly in the Uvira region. Plans were underway before the start of the conflict to set up sites in the Fizi area to accommodate the refugees. The sources added that Congolese populations stranded for weeks on the Ubwari peninsula, hoping to cross into Tanzania, were starting to return to their home areas in South Kivu. A Christian Aid official told IRIN that the NGO had registered about 15,000 families displaced in South Kivu as a result of the conflict. The displaced had fled from Goma, Bukavu and Uvira to their home villages in various areas of South Kivu, including Fizi, Kabare, Mwenga and Walungu, the official said.
Meanwhile, WFP reported that local authorities in Goma have requested assistance for 31,750 people, most of whom have lost their homes following conflict in the area. Humanitarian sources said Goma was presently hosting thousands of displaced persons, mainly from the Masisi and Walikale areas. The Goma displaced have been been integrated into local families, the sources said.
Tshisekedi barred from leaving - UDPS
Immigration officials in Kinshasa on Saturday prevented opposition politician Etienne Tshisekedi from leaving the country, the Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS) said in a statement received by IRIN. Tshisekedi had been invited to Brussels by the European Parliament to present his plan for a peaceful settlement of the DRC crisis, the statement said. The UDPS accused Kabila of being a "dictator" who continued to hold Tshisekedi as his "prisoner," the statement added. Reuters quoted a senior government official as saying on Monday that Tshisekedi was prevented from leaving the DRC because of "passport problems."
DRC and Rwanda miss reporting deadline
Human Rights Watch has harshly criticised the failure of the governments of Rwanda and DRC to submit official reports on their progress in investigating atrocities committed in DRC in 1997. In a press statement released last week, the organisation urged the UN Security Council to press ahead with steps to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice. Following the release of the report of the UN investigative team on massacres and other human rights violations perpetrated in DRC, the council had requested the two governments to provide initial reports by 15 October.
BURUNDI: Attack near Bujumbura
Some 34 people were killed and 25 others wounded in an attack by an "armed gang" some 20 km south of Bujumbura, state radio reported. The number of casualties from the overnight attack was still provisional, according to the radio report. The incident occurred in the town of Kanyosha, where an earlier attack in September had left 14 civilians dead, AFP added. Three UN human rights observers are investigating the incident and plan to interview survivors.
RWANDA: Detainees end hunger strike
Twenty-five detainees awaiting trial on genocide charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) called off their hunger strike on Wednesday, according to a statement from the ICTR received today by IRIN. The 25 detainees had started their hunger strike earlier this week in solidarity with the already convicted ex-mayor of Taba, Jean-Paul Akayesu. Akayesu began his hunger strike eight days ago and was still no t eating in protest against being denied a lawyer of his choice for his appeal. However, the ICTR statement said the court's programme on the assignment of defense counsel was "very fair".
Former education minister transferred to ICTR
Another genocide suspect has been transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), according to a press release from the court. Dr Andre Rwamakuba, who was education minister during the 1994 genocide, was transferred from Namibia to the ICTR in Arusha, Tanzania, on Friday. He was arrested in Windhoek two days earlier. The accused, from Gikomero commune in Kigali-Rural prefecture, is a medical doctor by profession and is charged with genocide crimes and crimes against humanity, the press release said.
Meanwhile, the trial of another suspect, Alfred Musema, is due to start in Arusha in January, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Musema, the former director of the Gisovu tea factory in southwest Rwanda, was transferred to the court in May 1997 after his arrest in Switzerland, and has pleaded not guilty to genocide crimes.
SUDAN: Senior UN official to seek solutions to conflict
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast is scheduled to travel to east Africa next month to explore how the UN could help end the war in Sudan, the Secretary-General's spokesman said in New York yesterday. The announcement follows a call by SCF, MSF, Oxfam and CARE for a more active UN Security Council role in ending the conflict and the resulting humanitarian crisis in the country.
Prendergast will visit Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Khartoum between 9 and 18 November, the spokesman said. During his visit, he will also seek to advance the peace process in Somalia.
Nutritional crisis persists in Bahr al-Ghazal
While the mortality rate in Bahr al-Ghazal has decreased over the past few weeks, it is too soon to conclude that the nutritional situation has stabilised, MSF said. In a briefing document received by IRIN today, MSF said it was treating 12,500 children in supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes in 11 rebel- and government-held locations of Bahr al-Ghazal. In Ajiep, one of the worst-affected areas, the crude mortality rate decreased from 26 deaths per 10,000 people per day on 1 August to 3.6 deaths per 10,000 people per day in late September, MSF said. The US-based Centers for Disease Control regards a crude mortality rate of just two per 10,000 per day as "an emergency out of control".
Humanitarian agencies have stressed that people in Bahr al-Ghazal will remain very vulnerable and in need of relief food until the next harvest in September/October 1999.
UGANDA: Prisoners-of-war registered
ICRC has registered 111 Sudanese prisoners-of-war in Uganda, out of 1,800 detainees visited in prisons throughout the country. In a monthly report received by IRIN, ICRC said 42 of these Sudanese prisoners-of-war had since been repatriated.. ICRC provided food and non-food assistance for the prisoners and facilitated the exchange of messages with relatives in Sudan, the report said.
Meanwhile, an increase in the number of war-wounded is reported, particularly in Acholiland, with many of the wounded being landmine victims, ICRC said.
Suspected "terrorists" released
Twenty-two Somalis and Ugandans arrested in Kampala last month on terrorism charges were released on police bond due to lack of evidence, the 'NewVision' newspaper reported. The group had been arrested on suspicion of being involved in plans for follow-up bombings of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. The 'NewVision' said 18 of the suspects were released on 1 October and the other four on 17 and 19 October.
Nairobi, 30 October 1998 11:00 GMT
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Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 14:43:57 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 44-98 1998.10.30 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.981030144159.7696Aemail@example.com>
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