Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 311, 12/11/97

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 311, 12/11/97

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. 311 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 11 December 1997)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Mai-Mai launch attack on Bukavu

Mai-Mai fighters and ex-Rwandan army soldiers attacked Bukavu town early today (Thursday), humanitarian sources reported. Heavy fighting, including intense street battles, raged from about 03:00 a.m. until about 08:00 a.m. when calm appeared to have been restored. The interim governor of South Kivu confirmed on public radio there had been an attack by ex-FAR and Interahamwe forces on several points around the town, but said army soldiers had repulsed them and the situation was now under control. He pledged the army would pursue "these enemies until they uproot the last root".

Attackers appeal to ex-FAZ elements to join them

At one stage during the fighting, residents said a local FM radio station began transmitting broadcasts claiming the attackers represented ex-FAR (Forces armees Rwandaises) of the defeated Hutu-dominated government of Juvenal Habyarimana and non-Tutsi soldiers in the current DRC army. The radio broadcasts also appealed to elements of the defeated army of ex-Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko to join them.

Fighting also reported around Uvira

There were also reports of fighting further south in the area around Uvira. Humanitarian sources said some aid agencies operating in the area were considering an evacuation fearing a situation similar to the one in Bukavu could develop. Some aid sources said the insecurity could jeopardise further refugee rapatriation operations from Tanzania across Lake Tanganyika to Uvira.

WFP ordered out of Goma, CRS to stay

WFP said it had been asked to leave Goma. The agency told IRIN it had received a letter from the authorities saying it should not operate in Goma, but no reasons were given. WFP has asked for an explanation and is staying put for the moment. Negotiations with the authorities are underway. Earlier this week, seven NGOs were ordered to cease operations in Goma. However, contrary to a report in IRIN Update 310 on 10 December, CRS is not pulling out of Goma. Clarifying its position, the NGO told IRIN they were in fact initiating two new projects this month in Goma in support of peace and justice issues. Budgetary constraints have, however, forced a reduction of staff in the Goma office, the NGO said.

RWANDA: Rebels kill mayor, 11 others in northwest

Rwandan rebels have killed a mayor and 11 other people in a village south of the northwestern town of Gisenyi, news reports quoted a senior military official as saying today. The reports said the attack took place on Tuesday night in the village of Ramba. The official added that Mayor Pascal Owimana, who had provided refuge to people fleeing clashes during Rwanda's civil war and 1994 genocide, was killed and his house torched during the attack.

UGANDA: Albright announces aid for northern Uganda

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright yesterday announced US $four million in aid for northern Uganda where the government is battling a rebel insurgency it says is supported by Khartoum's Islamic-backed government. According to news reports, Albright said: "The US will stand with the Ugandan government in its efforts to end the violence of this (Sudanese) regime and improve the security of Ugandans, especially children." Meanwhile, Uganda's 'New Vision' newspaper reported today that 13 rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army were killed on Monday and 27 captured when a military helicopter gunship backed by infantry attacked and shelled one of their hideouts. Army Commander Brigadier James Kazini told reporters from his Gulu barracks office the attack took place in Klayorbit forest, Aswa county, some 24 km east of Gulu. Another newspaper, 'The Monitor' said a rebel captured in the attack had reported that LRA Commander Marianno Ochai Lagira had been shot in the leg during the fighting. Lagira was accused last year of engineering a raid on St Mary's School in northern Kitgum district, in which 139 schoolgirls were abducted. Twenty-one of them remain in captivity.

SUDAN: Khartoum angered by Albright comments

Meanwhile, Sudan has reacted angrily to remarks by Albright on the need to isolate Khartoum. A Sudanese foreign ministry statement yesterday condemned Albright's statements as "clearly manifesting America's interference in other countries' affairs and inciting disputes and disturbances," AFP reported. Albright made her comments after talks with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on the second leg of her seven-nation African tour. She further upset Khartoum by meeting the head of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), John Garang, and three leaders of the allied opposition National Democratic Alliance, calling on them to unite and show they could form a credible government.

Khartoum has described Albright's tour as a "US-Israeli ploy to destabilise Sudan." Khartoum is blacklisted by Washington for sponsoring international terrorism and in November, President Bill Clinton applied sanctions against what the US describes as a hardline Islamic government. The first two ports of call on the Albright tour were Ethiopia and Uganda, countries that Khartoum accuses of cross-border operations in support of Sudanese rebels and which have received US military support.

According to a spokesman in the US embassy in Nairobi, the idea that Albright's trip is about reviewing the success of Washington's anti-Khartoum alliance has been over-played. He said the real focus of the tour is "to meet the new generation of (African) leaders" in the Great Lakes. Albright goes on to visit Rwanda, DRC, Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The spokesman said Washington was concerned the Great Lakes region could become "a great drain if not turned around or the boil taken off." According to the spokesman, the tour will also prepare the ground for a planned visit to Africa by Clinton next year.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Team begins work for reconciliation conference

Congo's new rulers have set up a 100-member team to prepare for a national reconciliation forum in January in Brazzaville, devastated by months of civil war, AFP reported on Wednesday. It said the minister responsible for organising the conference, Firmin Ayessa, said the planning committee was set up on Tuesday to draft discussion papers for the gathering to be held from January 5 to 11. Ayessa was quoted as saying that although members of the committee belonged to political parties or professional or other social groups, they were chosen for their "competence and experience" and not on political or regional grounds.

UNITED NATIONS: UNHCR details refugee numbers in Kenya

UNHCR Representative for Kenya and Somalia Yvette Stevens said today Kenya now sheltered some 177,000 refugees compared to half a million five years ago. Speaking on the occasion of the national launch of UNHCR's biennial 'The State of the World's Refugees' report, Stevens said the numbers had dropped tremendously as the situation in the region had stabilised and praised the cooperation her agency had received from the Kenyan government in reducing the refugee population.

Nairobi, 11 December 1997


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Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 17:46:02 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 311 97.12.11 Message-ID: <> MIME-Version: 1.0

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

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