Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 294, 11/18/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 294, 11/18/97

U N I T E D N A T I O N S Department of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

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IRIN Update No. 294 for Central and Eastern Africa (Tuesday 18 November 1997)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN team assured investigation can proceed

The UN human rights mission met today (Tuesday) with DRC interior and foreign affairs ministers at the foreign affairs ministry. Mission spokesman Jose Diaz told IRIN the meeting was "constructive" and the ministers reiterated the government's commitment for the team to proceed with its investigation. The technical meeting with the liaison committee, to agree the modalities of deployment, will "hopefully" take place this week. Diaz said no precise date was given.

Human rights report could "sabotage" mission

DRC on Friday urged the UN to withdraw a human rights report on the country, saying it sought to "sabotage" the UN investigation. In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, DRC's UN envoy Andre Mwanba Kapanga described the report as a "deliberate act aimed at sabotaging" the enquiry. The report issued last week, by UN Special Rapporteur Roberto Garreton, described the human rights situation in DRC under President Laurent-Desire Kabila as "less than satisfactory". The DRC government described the report as "based on presumptions".

BURUNDI: CNDD fears for refugees security in eastern DRC

Jerome Ndiho, Brussels spokesman for the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD), told IRIN 2,000 Burundian Hutus had been expelled by the DRC army, assisted by the Burundian and Rwandan armies, in the Uvira region. He claimed it was to stop them talking to the UN investigation team. He said they were taken to Bubanza province, which he described as a "combat zone". CNDD expressed its "deep concern" about security in eastern DRC, saying it feared "selective expulsion". "Kabila does not respect international laws regarding refugees", Ndiho added. He denied there were any CNDD fighters among those being expelled.

Media sources in Burundi say the authorities have no knowledge of any forced repatriation. According to the authorities, Burundian refugees in DRC have been returning voluntarily in greater numbers than before over the last few weeks. No great movement of refugees has been observed via the Gatumba crossing point near Uvira. The sources say that if huge numbers of refugees are coming into Burundi they must be crossing further north, directly into Cibitoke/Bubanza.

Meanwhile, WFP has suspended its air service to the interior of the country pending new funding for the operation. The last flight was on 10 November.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Sassou Nguesso plans transitional parliament

President Denis Sassou Nguesso has proposed a "peace and reconciliation" forum for next month in Brazzaville which will act as a transitional parliament. Former president Pascal Lissouba and his political allies will not be invited to attend. In an interview on Gabonese Africa No 1 radio broadcast yesterday, Sassou Nguesso said the "forces for peace" inside the country "will participate in the forum."

TANZANIA: Refugees face rising xenophobia

The Tanzanian army has arrested or expelled more than 28,000 illegal aliens since September in a security crackdown along its western Kigoma and Ngara border regions. According to UNHCR, most of those arrested were Burundians or Congolese. Also included in the sweep were old-caseload Rwandan refugees. "The security issue is very, very important in the equation of what's happening," one Tanzanian-based humanitarian source told IRIN. "But it has also been triggered by economic factors, political issues and public opinion." He said protection and refugee rights have been undermined by the regional politicisation of the refugee issue, a trend repeatedly condemned by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata. European countries, which themselves have become increasingly restrictive on asylum policy, have provided a poor model for emulation by African governments, one regional NGO source added. Xenophobia towards refugees and economic migrants has intensified on the back of economic austerity, he said.

RWANDA: First defence witness testifies in genocide trial

The first defence witness to testify at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda argued on Monday that a former mayor accused of genocide had been powerless to prevent ethnic killings in his region, AFP reported. The witness, whose name and former position were not disclosed, said that Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former mayor of Taba in central Rwanda, had initially done everything he could to prevent the massacres.

UN Special Representative calls for dossiers for detainees

The Special Representative of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Rwanda has urged the international community to concentrate on providing all necessary assistance to enable the government to establish urgently a dossier for every detainee. In his latest report, Michel Moussali, said this would allow "for the determination of who should be released immediately and who should be brought to trial within the shortest time possible". He also said all those in the international community concerned with the administration of justice should accord top priority to the twin problems of the conditions of detention and the need to speed up genocide trials "without sacrificing adherence to international human rights standards". In the report, which was issued last week following a field mission from 26 July to 4 August, Moussalli praised the government for its cooperation with the international community, but expressed concern about "shocking" conditions of detention in both prisons and communal cachots.


Sergio Vieira de Mello will head the new UN Office of the Emergency Relief Coordinator from January 1998. Contrary to an item in yesterday's Update, he was the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region from October to December 1996.

Nairobi, 18 November 1997 14:30 gmt


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Date: Tue, 18 Nov 1997 18:34:12 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 294 97.11.18 Message-ID: <>

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

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