IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 46, 13-19 November 1999

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 46, 13-19 November 1999


Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network for Central and Eastern Africa

Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 46 covering the period 13-19 November 1999


DRC: Insurgent groups strengthen links DRC: Rebel army to move to Kalemie DRC: Ugandan commander killed in Beni clashes DRC: UN set to deploy military liaison officers DRC: OAU deploys "neutral investigators" BURUNDI: Political partnership "under threat" BURUNDI: FDD, Interahamwe moving towards Tanzania, Burundi BURUNDI: MSF suspends activities in Bujumbura Rural camps BURUNDI: Hunger causing Muyinga residents to flee TANZANIA: Burundi refugee influx reaches 500 a day RWANDA: Hundreds protest against Barayagwiza release RWANDA: ICTR prosecutor to travel to Rwanda RWANDA: Genocide suspect reportedly in Britain RWANDA: Malnutrition in some areas KENYA: "Stranded" refugees back in Ethiopian camps ETHIOPIA: Kenyans cross border in search of food ETHIOPIA: WFP working to boost capacity at Djibouti port ERITREA: Official dismisses Djibouti President's remarks ERITREA: Over 600 deportees arrive home SOMALIA: MSF pulls out of Galkayo SUDAN: Refugees flee ethnic clashes ROC: Army and rebels sign truce CAR: Canadian peacekeepers start leaving

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Insurgent groups strengthen links

A worsening security climate has reduced aid agencies' access to vulnerable populations in war-affected areas of the DRC, humanitarian and security sources said. Various armed groups with national and regional links had recently intensified their military activities, resulting in a heavy death toll among civilians. Links between the Mayi-Mayi, Interahamwe, rebels of the Burundi Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD) and ex-FAR elements had been reinforced over the past few months, with several well-organised and coordinated attacks launched on major towns in eastern DRC, the sources stated. Meanwhile, intensified fighting in parts of Angola had led to a deterioration of the security situation in the southwestern provinces of Bandundu and Bas-Congo, with incursions of both UNITA rebels and Angolan army troops reported in Bas-Congo, they added.

DRC: Rebel army to move to Kalemie

The rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) is poised to move its army headquarters from Goma to Kalemie in Katanga province. The RCD head of security and intelligence, Bizima Karaha, told IRIN on Monday the move had no "big significance" and it made no difference where the group's military headquarters were situated. "Kalemie is closer to where there are many of our soldiers," he said. On Saturday, the chief of staff of the RCD's Armee nationale congolaise (ANC), Commander Ilondo Igo, said the move was prompted by the "quiet and serene atmosphere" in Kalemie, rebel-controlled Goma radio reported. He added that Kalemie had the advantage of being away from "political interference" and "other political manoeuvres that are prejudicial to the clear minded and efficient performance of men in uniform."

DRC: Ugandan commander killed in Beni clashes

The leader of the Bunia-based rebel RCD-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML), Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, confirmed media reports that Ugandan commander Major Reuben Ikondere was killed on Sunday during an attack by Mayi-Mayi militia on Beni in North Kivu. "The major was killed plus two of his bodyguards, but the attackers were repulsed and about 60 of them were killed," he told IRIN on Monday. Radio Uganda on Sunday quoted a statement from Ugandan Chief of Staff Brigadier James Kazini which said further information on the motive of the attack was being obtained from captured fighters.

DRC: UN set to deploy military liaison officers

The UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) is expected to deploy its military liaison officers (MLOs) in locations in the east of the country from Monday, MONUC spokeswoman Diane Bailey told IRIN on Wednesday. A UN technical survey team assessing conditions on the ground in preparation for the MLOs' deployment was still in the field but its mission was "proceeding normally" and the deployment was expected to go ahead in those areas surveyed, she said. The team was visiting Gbadolite, Goma, Kisangani, Bukavu and Kananga.

DRC: OAU deploys "neutral investigators"

The OAU has deployed eight "neutral investigators" to Kabinda and intends to have all 30 of its investigators on the ground by Friday to monitor compliance with the terms of the Lusaka ceasefire, OAU conflict resolution chief Sam Ibok told IRIN on Wednesday. The 30 investigators - from Nigeria, Senegal, Algeria and Malawi - would be attached to the regional operational zones of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) at Kabinda, Boende, Lissala and Kabalo, Ibok said.

BURUNDI: Political partnership "under threat"

A Security Council debate on Burundi has noted the precarious situation in the country, and stressed the UN must take steps to see the Arusha peace process continued. According to a UN press release, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Ibrahima Fall, said the survival of Burundi's political partnership was under threat. Positions had hardened, and the various sides were no longer "on the same wavelength" regarding the Arusha process.

BURUNDI: FDD, Interahamwe moving towards Tanzania, Burundi

Burundi's UN representative, Marc Nteturuye, pointed out if the international community was not careful, the DRC conflict could affect the entire region. Burundian rebels, in collusion with the Rwandan Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR, had begun to move towards Burundi again, having acquired an arsenal of weapons, he said. Burundi analyst Jan van Eck of the South Africa-based Centre for Conflict Resolution agreed that Rwandan and Burundi rebels were moving towards the Tanzanian refugee camps and warned that Tanzania may increasingly be used as a rear base with the possibility for all-out war between Burundi and Tanzania.

On the Burundi peace talks, Van Eck told IRIN that violence and impasse over the appointment of a new mediator were undermining the peace process. In the region, there was a feeling of the "inevitability of war" unless the Lusaka accord was implemented to bring about peace in neighbouring DRC and people were preparing themselves "psychologically" for war. Van Eck warned of the possibility of a regional war, played out in all the Great Lakes countries and not just DRC. Regional leaders are due to hold a summit in Arusha on 1 December to appoint a new mediator, the Internews agency reported.

BURUNDI: MSF suspends activities in Bujumbura Rural camps

Medecins sans frontieres (MSF) suspended its activities in the regroupment camps of Bujumbura Rural province, saying its intervention was having little impact on improving camp conditions. In a press release issued on Friday, MSF said the conditions of regroupment itself "deprive the population of its most basic human rights, and are therefore in direct contravention of the principles of the MSF charter". However, MSF would maintain other programmes in Burundi and remained "prepared to intervene" in the camps.

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. 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.

TANZANIA: Burundi refugee influx reaches 500 a day

UNHCR in Tanzania is making contingency plans for a "major refugee influx" from Burundi as the security situation there worsens. UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said on Tuesday that some 500 people a day were now streaming across the border into Tanzania, up from 400 a day reported last week. Since the beginning of November, more than 7,000 Burundians had fled to Tanzania, almost as many as in the entire month of October, he said. "They show signs of fatigue and some are malnourished," Janowski said. UNHCR is negotiating with the Tanzanian authorities on the expansion of refugee sites, he added.

RWANDA: Hundreds protest against Barayagwiza release

Hundreds of people in Kigali on Monday took part in a protest march against the release of genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Rwandan radio reported. The march, which was peaceful, was organised by the genocide survivors' organisation, Ibuka. Officials of Ibuka addressed a rally outside the ICTR office in Kigali. The Rwandan government temporarily suspended cooperation with the ICTR as a result of its decision to free Barayagwiza.

RWANDA: ICTR prosecutor to travel to Rwanda

The chief prosecutor of the UN Tribunal Carla del Ponte will travel to Africa next week, an official at the prosecutor's office in The Hague told IRIN on Friday. She is expected to visit Rwanda, although Rwandan officials have said they will not meet her.

RWANDA: Genocide suspect reportedly in Britain

Meanwhile, the British daily 'The Times' on Tuesday reported that another genocide suspect is living as a political refugee in London. Colonel Tharcisse Muvunyi was the army commander in Butare and Gikongoro prefectures, where tens of thousands of people were killed in the 1994 genocide. According to the report, the British government - which does not have an extradition agreement with Rwanda - has said the ICTR is investigating Muvunyi and Britain is awaiting its request for extradition.

RWANDA: Malnutrition in some areas

A recent inter-agency assessment mission estimated that the country's cereal food aid requirement will be 7,000 mt per month at least until the next harvest in January 2000, FAO said. In a report, it said several areas of the country were currently affected by malnutrition. "Dramatic situations are reported in parts of Kibungo and Umutara prefectures," the report stated. Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema on 8 November had appealed for emergency food assistance for tens of thousands of drought-affected families in parts of the country for at least six months.

KENYA: "Stranded" refugees back in Ethiopian camps

Kenyan refugees who were denied entry by the Kenyan government have been returned to their camps in Ethiopia, UNHCR spokesman Paul Stromberg told IRIN on Wednesday. The Kenyan authorities claim the refugees are not Kenyan. Stromberg said the refugees returned on 4 November, contrary to press reports alleging the refugees were "stranded" at the border and had appealed to the agency to relocate them. "We have received no request from the refugees for resettlement, these are Kenyan refugees," he said. "We are waiting for a meeting with the government to iron things out."

ETHIOPIA: Kenyans cross border in search of food

Some 5,000 Kenyans have reportedly crossed into Ethiopia in search of food, the 'Daily Nation' newspaper reported on Wednesday. It said a two-year drought had forced residents of Kibish district, in northwestern Turkana on the Kenya-Ethiopia border, to abandon their homes with their cattle and cross in search of water and food.

ETHIOPIA: WFP working to boost capacity at Djibouti port

WFP is currently working to increase off-loading capacity at Djibouti port which could face "significant congestion" with the anticipated substantial increases in the amount of food aid due to arrive in the coming months. A WFP official in Addis Ababa told IRIN on Wednesday the agency had initiated a special operation to clear up and expand the port to enable it to function more efficiently. WFP has also identified other options of using Port Sudan in Sudan or Berbera in Somaliland. The European Union has successfully tested the possibility of using the port of Berbera with a food aid shipment.

ERITREA: Official dismisses Djibouti President's remarks

Eritrea on Tuesday rejected comments by Djibouti that ties between the two countries were worsening. The Eritrean embassy spokesman in Nairobi Kidane Woldeyesus said his government had "no wars" with Djibouti and described the comments in a BBC interview by Djibouti President Ismael Omar Gelleh as a "way of trying to demonise" Eritrea. Kidane told IRIN that Djibouti was "making noises", yet Eritrea had "no border conflicts, political or economic quarrels" with its neighbour. In the interview, President Guelleh accused Eritrea of supporting Djiboutian rebels and said the two countries were "almost in a state of war".

ERITREA: Over 600 deportees arrive home

More than 600 Eritreans, deported from Ethiopia last week, arrived in western Eritrea through the Mereb-Setit front on Monday after a six-day journey, the Eritrean News Agency (ERINA) reported. It quoted the returnees as saying the situation of Eritreans in Addis Ababa remained "desperate". Eritrean spokesman Kidane Woldeyesus told IRIN the deportation of Eritreans from Ethiopia in this way had become a "tradition". "The civilians are brutalised," he said. "Their assets are frozen, property and houses confiscated or burnt down and yet the international community has not condemned this."

SOMALIA: MSF pulls out of Galkayo

Medecins sans frontieres (MSF) has temporarily evacuated its mission in Galkayo after an armed robbery there last Thursday. According to an MSF press release, three men armed with assault rifles and hand grenades entered the compound and made off with the contents of the safe, after forcing staff at gunpoint to open it.

SUDAN: Refugees flee ethnic clashes to Uganda, Kenya

Over 400 Sudanese refugees have arrived in Uganda over the past few days, a UNHCR spokesman said on Wednesday. The refugees reported fleeing clashes between the Dinka and Didinga ethnic groups in southern Sudan, he said. Another 210 refugees had arrived from Sudan to the Kakuma area of Kenya between 7-13 November, the spokesman added. In May there was an influx of abut 400 Sudanese refugees fleeing similar fighting. The semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper in Uganda reported the recent fighting as factional clashes within the ranks of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and quoted a Didinga refugee as saying most of his compatriots were from Lotukel and Chukudum. SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje told IRIN on Thursday he was awaiting details of the reported refugee movements and armed clashes. He had no knowledge of "full clashes" between the Dinka and Didinga within the SPLA, he said, but acknowledged there had been "some unease and incidents" in recent months.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Army and rebels sign truce

Congo's armed forces and representatives of the Ninja and Cocoye rebel militias signed an accord in the southern port city of Pointe-Noire on Tuesday calling for a cessation of hostilities, news agencies reported. According to Reuters, more than 200 representatives of militias allied to former president Pascal Lissouba and former prime minister Bernard Kolelas took part in the four-day talks that led to the signing. The ousted leaders were excluded, and Kolelas called the peace accord a "sham", while Lissouba said it was a "machination," news agencies reported.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Canadian peacekeepers start leaving

Canada has begun withdrawing its military personnel from the CAR, according to a statement from the UN Mission in the CAR (MINURCA). The statement said the withdrawal of the Canadian contingent serving in MINURCA started on Thursday with the departure of 18 officers. The withdrawal would be completed by 20 December, it said. Forty-eight Canadian officers have been serving in the UN peacekeeping force since April 1998 and their withdrawal is in accordance with the planned gradual reduction of MINURCA.

Nairobi, 19 November 1999, 12:30 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: . Mailing list: irin-cea-weekly]

Item: irin-english-1993

[This item is delivered in the "irin-english" service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Subscriber: Keyword: IRIN

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific