Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 310, 12/10/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 310, 12/10/97

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IRIN Update No. 310 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 10 December 1997)

RWANDA: Over 300 freed inmates return voluntarily to jail

Some 307 genocide suspects freed from a jail in central Rwanda last week during a raid by Hutu rebels have turned themselves in to the Rwandan authorities, news organisations reported yesterday (Tuesday). Some of the prisoners, who were among 570 freed in the 3 December attack on the prison in Bulinga, Gitarama prefecture, were quoted by the Rwandan news agency (RNA) as saying they had been forced to follow their liberators into the bush. "Those who liberated us failed to evaluate the distance from here to Democratic Republic of Congo," RNA quoted one prisoner, Boniface Rugwizangoga, as saying. "We had been in prison for two years and were short of strength to follow these men to an unknown destination." Other inmates said they had been scared by heavy clashes following their escape between the army and rebel Interahamwe militia. In an apparent recruitment drive, rebels have sprung two other groups of prisoners in recent weeks, including 103 in Rwerere, in Gisenyi district, and 93 in Giciye, a few km to the east. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN rights team meet local authorities

The UN human rights investigative team in Mbandaka met with the deputy governor of the province yesterday to inform the local authorities of the exact location the investigators want to have access to, Fred Eckhard, spokesman for the office of the Secretary-General, told the daily press briefing at the UN's New York headquarters. AFP in Kinshasa later quoted Mission Spokesman Jose Diaz as saying the deputy governor told the team, which finally arrived in the northwestern town on Monday, that "the question will be dealt with tomorrow (Wednesday) by the provincial security committee." Diaz said the investigators, who include 17 technical experts, also paid a courtesy call on local army and police officials.

UNHCR says 1,415 Rwandans expelled from Goma

UNHCR has reported that a further 1,413 Rwandans have been expelled from the Goma area of DRC in recent days in the largest expulsion so far. The group was composed mostly of women and children who had fled to DRC to escape fighting in Gisenyi and Ruhengeri prefectures, spokesperson Pam O'Toole told a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday. Meanwhile, CRS announced today (Wednesday) that for political reasons they were withdrawing from Goma, but gave no other details. Earlier, this week Kinshasa television reported that seven NGOs had been requested to suspend their activities in Goma, but did not say CRS was one of those affected. Aid workers said on Wednesday the NGOs concerned had now received formal notification from the government and been informed the local authorities would assist in all closure procedures.

Churchman reported arrested for criticising Kabila

Police have arrested a Protestant churchman for allegedly making defamatory remarks about President Laurent-Desire Kabila, AFP reported a source close to his church as telling the agency. It said Father Theodore Ngoy was arrested at his Gombe parish in central Kinshasa on Saturday, after he said at a regional seminar that the Kabila government was making the "same mistakes" as the one it ousted.

BURUNDI: Eritrea agrees cooperation deal

Burundi and Eritrea signed a cooperation agreement yesterday at the end of a two-day visit by Eritrean Foreign Minister Haile Woldentensae. Burundian radio, monitored by the BBC, said the accord would cover the areas of transport of goods and people, trade, and university education. During the minister's visit, Eritrea formally withdrew its support for sanctions against Bujumbura, saying they were counter-productive to the peace process. After leaving Burundi, Woldentensae visited President Yoweri Museveni in Uganda for talks on a wide range of regional issues, Ugandan state radio reported.

UNHCR to shift focus in 1998

UNHCR is planning next year to boost its activities in Burundi's southern and south-eastern provinces in anticipation of the return of thousands of refugees from camps in Tanzania, aid sources say. Official UN figures show there are approximately 250,000 Burundians who remain in camps in Tanzania, many of whom have recently indicated to aid workers they may start returning home in 1998.

ANGOLA: Angola signs cooperation pact with Congo-Brazzaville

Angola and Congo-Brazzaville today signed a cooperation agreement on security along the border, Angolan radio reported on Tuesday. Angolan Interior Minister Santana Andre Pitra Petroff and his counterpart Pierre Oba signed the agreement which also includes training of the Congo-Brazzaville police. The accord will come into force immediately. Meanwhile, AFP reported government officials in Luanda as saying Angolan and police units were gearing up for an offensive against separatists still holding out in the oil enclave of Cabinda. On Tuesday, one person was killed in the enclave bordering Congo-Brazzaville. The attack was blamed on the Cabinda Enclave Liberation Front (FLEC-Renewed).

French oil company reports major find

French oil group Elf Aquitaine has found a huge oil field containing more than 100 million tonnes or about 730 million barrels of oil off the coast of Angola, news organisations reported. Elf confirmed that it had struck oil on block 17 about 200 km from Luanda.

SUDAN: Albright meets Sudanese rebels

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today met Sudanese opposition and rebel leaders in Kampala, where she said that Washington was seeking to isolate Khartoum's leaders. Albright, in Uganda during an African tour, held talks with the head of the rebel SPLA, John Garang, and three other leaders in the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which linked up with Garang in 1995. The meeting was the first between a US government representative and the SPLA and also the first at such a senior level between Washington and the exiled opposition.

UNITED NATIONS: UNHCR report says refugees increasingly used as war tactic

The world's major powers are increasingly using humanitarian assistance as an excuse for not taking political action in conflict situations, Soren Jessen-Petersen, the Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees said on Monday on the launch of a biennial report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He noted that forced population shifts, as in the Great Lakes region, are increasingly a tactic of modern wars in which civilians are deliberately targetted. A mounting statelessness among the world's populations due to displacement is also being met by rising inhospitality towards refugees by both rich and poor nations.

The good news that refugee numbers worldwide are down compared with a year ago and repatriations are accelerating, does not negate the challenges faced by humanitarian workers sent into situations where the politicians and armies of major powers dare not tread, Jessen-Petersen said. He stressed that "internal human security should be the major focus of UNHCR activities". That response, offering a "real solution", would include the reduction of poverty; curtailment of the small arms trade; promotion of human rights in countries emerging from conflict; long-term actions to avert relapses; and the protection of the right to asylum.


The launch of 'The State of the World's Refugees' in Kenya will take place at Nairobi's Hotel Intercontinental at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday 11 December.

Nairobi, 10 December 1997 15:30 gmt


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Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 19:09:03 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 310 97.12.10 Message-ID: <>

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

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