IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 52-98 1998.12.24

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 52-98 1998.12.24

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

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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 52-98 covering the period 18-23 Dec 1998

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Electricity, water restored in Brazzaville

Thousands of residents of the Bacongo and Makelekele areas of south Brazzaville fled their homes after fighting and looting broke out last Friday, news agencies and humanitarian sources said. Government troops sealed off the two neighbourhoods on Sunday after conducting "mopping up" operations against Ninja militia, allied to former prime minister Bernard Kolelas, who had "infiltrated" the city from the Pool region, news agencies said. Heavy weapons fire and explosions were heard between Friday and Sunday. Groups of Cobra militiamen were also involved in the unrest.

By Wednesday, the situation had calmed down, with government forces in control of the Bacongo and Makelekele areas, and the level of looting considerably reduced, humanitarian sources told IRIN. Electricity and running water supplies had been restored in the city, but insecurity remained a major concern and access to Bacongo and Makelekele was still not possible, the sources added. AFP reported today that Angolan soldiers stationed in Brazzaville had been deployed to the two neighbourhoods to stop looting by Cobra militiamen.

Displaced are mainly women and children

Thousands of people fled to northern parts of Brazzaville to escape the unrest in the south. UNICEF Representative Eric Laroche told IRIN on Wednesday that about 95 percent of an estimated 250,000 displaced were women and children. Many were in a traumatised state and in poor nutritional condition. Between 60,000 and 100,000 displaced were sheltering in churches, schools and other public buildings and the remainder were staying with friends or relatives, humanitarian sources said. UNICEF was providing essential drugs and therapeutic milk for functioning health centres in north Brazzaville, while ICRC was trucking potable water to five displaced sites sheltering some 17,000 people.

Continued insecurity hampering relief efforts

UN Humanitarian Coordinator Dominique AitOuyahia McAdams told IRIN on Tuesday priority humanitarian needs were to treat wounded civilians and provide water and sanitation assistance to displaced populations. However, no assistance could be provided without security assurances, she said. Personnel of local health facilities had fled, she added.

BURUNDI: OAU says all conditions met for lifting sanctions

The OAU has added its voice to mounting pressure for lifting the embargo on Burundi. At the end of its meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Friday, the OAU's conflict resolution committee said Burundi had met all the conditions laid down by regional leaders for ending the sanctions. Burundi's Peace Process Minister Ambroise Niyonsaba stated he was confident the embargo would be lifted. Speaking to the independent Hirondelle news agency in Arusha, Tanzania, he noted peace process mediator Julius Nyerere had expressed his intention to circulate a report to regional leaders recommending dropping sanctions.

Oxford Analytica predicts sanctions will end in February

An analysis by Oxford Analytica noted that an end to sanctions would have a "pronounced effect" on the country's dislocated economy. Greater stability in Burundi could help mitigate tensions elsewhere in the Great Lakes region, the report added. It noted that Nyerere, "the last major opponent to lifting regional sanctions", had now changed his stance, probably under donor pressure. The report said regional heads of state would almost certainly accept the recommendation to lift sanctions which is due to be made at the next round of Arusha talks in January. The sanctions regime will probably end in February, it added.

EIU cautiously optimistic over economy

The latest report on Burundi by the Economist Intelligence Unit predicted a two to three percent economic growth for this year and said prospects for 1999-2000 depended in part on whether the country would still be under embargo. Other variables included agricultural activity and the level of foreign assistance to Burundi, both of which were expected to rise.

Minister warns of continuing insecurity in some areas

Burundi Interior Minister Colonel Ascencion Twagiramungu on Saturday warned of persistent insecurity in some parts of the country, notably Makamba, Bubanza, Bururi and Bujumbura-Rurale provinces. He blamed "infiltration" by "armed groups from Tanzania and to a lesser extent from the Democratic Republic of Congo". He claimed they were trying to "jeopardise the struggle for unity by the transitional government". OCHA-Burundi, in its latest information bulletin, confirmed increasing attacks on displaced camps as well as a rise in fighting between rebels and the army. It noted that continuing insecurity in Bururi province had slowed down the activities of the few organisations working there.

Concern over possible holiday violence

Burundian MPs attending a peace conference in Nairobi this week expressed concern over a possible upsurge in violence over the Christmas and New Year period. They told IRIN there were reports that the Forces nationales pour la liberation (FNL), the armed wing of the rebel PALIPEHUTU group, were planning attacks. Rebel attacks on New Year's Eve last year against military positions near Bujumbura airport left at least 200 people dead and caused the displacement of thousands of others. The FNL later claimed responsibility for the airport attack in a press release.

The Nairobi conference, organised by the Burundi organisation Compagnie des apotres de la paix (CAP), brought together Burundians from within the country and from the diaspora. The meeting - a follow-up to a previous gathering in October - was aimed at bringing together as many Burundian representatives as possible, including exiles and government members. Participants in the meeting told IRIN the themes under discussion were the internal and external peace processes and ways of maintaining a durable peace. Many participants reportedly questioned the external Arusha process, saying the mediator Julius Nyerere should recognise the rebel CNDD-FDD faction of Colonel Jean-Bosco Ndaykengurukiye as a negotiating party, rather than the more isolated Leonard Nyangoma.

South African company moots "floating hospital"

The BBC Kirundi service last week reported that a private South African company was seeking to establish a "floating hospital" in the Great Lakes area. The hospital ship would be based in Bujumbura port, but would serve other countries bordering Lake Tanganyika such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania. The project is estimated at US $2 million, the radio said.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Glimmer of light as sides agree to discuss ceasefire

African states involved in the DRC conflict agreed to meet in Lusaka on 27 and 28 December to try and reach accord on a ceasefire, news organisations reported on Friday. The announcement was made by OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim at a news conference in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, following an OAU summit meeting. Current OAU chairman, Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore, said the warring sides had worked on a "pre-agreement" and it was hoped the Lusaka summit would finalise the pact.

Rebel authorities appoint new governors

The rebel authorities in eastern DRC have appointed new provincial governors to areas under their control, the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported on Tuesday. According to an announcement by the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), each governor will now be assisted by two vice-governors, the first in charge of finance and the second in charge of administration. The governor of South Kivu is Norbert Bashengezi Katintima, first vice-governor Benjamin Serukiza, second vice-governor Ernest Mundjo Munzenze. In Maniema, the governor is Nestor Kiyimbi Mutangi, first vice-governor Kasongo Olango, second vice-governor Abeli Butezi. In North Kivu, the governor is Leonard Kanyamuhanga Gafundi, first vice-governor Shomwa Monghera, second vice-governor Muhima Salumu. In Province Orientale, the governor is Theo Baruti Amissi, first vice-governor A.Lotsoye, second vice-governor Yogba L.Bazono. [Names as given by RNA].

Rebels capture Pweto, advance on Lubumbashi

RCD rebels captured the southeastern town of Pweto late last week and are advancing on Lubumbashi, according to Bukavu radio. The station, monitored by the Rwanda News Agency, said the fall of Pweto - on the DRC-Zambian border - was "strategically important." The radio did not give any details on the fighting or casualties.

Plight of Banyamulenge displaced

Some 130 Banyamulenge displaced families from Vyura have moved to new camps in the plains of Ruzizi. Others have been encouraged to vacate temporary shelters in schools to allow for the start of the new academic year, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Tuesday. However, "the biggest challenge for all of the displaced is that the camps are not yet ready for a big number to move in," the sources said. Among the pressing needs in the camps are plastic sheeting, water supplies, food, seeds and tools. The sources added that over the last three months, security in the region has been relatively calm. But over the past two weeks, Mayi-Mayi attacks have been reported around Fizi town and on the Hauts Plateaux.

National polio campaign launched

A national polio immunization campaign, postponed in August due to the outbreak of the conflict, was launched on Monday but will initially cover only three provinces. The first phase of the campaign, lasting three days, will strive to vaccinate some 2.2 million children under five years old in Kinshasa, Bas-Congo and Kasai Occidental, a UNICEF spokesman told IRIN. The campaign, part of global efforts to eradicate polio by the year 2000, initially aimed to vaccinate all 10 million children under five throughout the country.

Meanwhile, some 50,000 children were vaccinated against measles in rebel-held Kisangani earlier this month, a UNICEF spokesman told IRIN. The campaign was organised in response to a recent measles outbreak in the city, he said.

UNITA allegedly smuggling diamonds through Kisangani

According to a diamond industry analyst, it is "highly probable" that the Angolan rebel movement UNITA has opened a new diamond smuggling route through Kisangani. Christine Gordon, a London-based analyst, told IRIN that "Papa" Philippe Surowicke, the chief diamond buyer of the Belgian company Glasol, opened an office in Kisangani in November. Surowicke is UNITA's "favourite diamond dealer" with long-standing links to the rebel movement, Gordon said. She added that the RCD rebels are also marketing diamonds internationally from the 200 small mines in the Kisangani area.

UNHCR identifies 3,000 refugees in Uganda

A UNHCR mission to southwestern Uganda has identified a group of nearly 3,000 Congolese refugees who have fled eastern DRC's Rutshuru district over the past few weeks. They entered Uganda at Kisoro and are being moved to the Kyangwali refugee settlement near Lake Albert. The settlement already hosts around 3,400 Congolese refugees, while a further 3,000 are in Kyaka II and Nakiavale, UNHCR said in a statement.

RWANDA: French inquiry a "partisan whitewash"

Rwanda has described the conclusions of a French parliamentary inquiry into the 1994 genocide as a "partisan whitewash". Rwandan radio broadcast a statement from the president's office which said the parlimentary commission was set up to "absolve France of any role in the genocide". France played a "key role" in the genocide and participated in the "disinformation campaign" which misled the international community, the statement said.

Minister flees

A Rwandan cabinet member has resigned and fled the country after her brothers were arrested on suspicion of collaborating with Hutu rebels fighting in the northwest, the Rwandan News Agency (RNA) reported on Monday. Beatrice Sebatware-Panda, the minister of state for internal affairs, reportedly wrote a resignation letter to President Pasteur Bizimungu on 4 December before leaving for Nairobi "on the pretext of taking her seriously-ill child for treatment", RNA quoted the 'New Times' weekly as saying. According to the newspaper, Interior Minister Sheikh Abdulkarim Harerimana confirmed Sebatware-Panda's departure, saying she was suffering from "psychological shock" after the arrest of her brothers.

Continued economic growth predicted

The Economist Intelligence Unit has forecast a seven percent GDP growth for Rwanda this year, and says the country's consolidated budget is in a healthier state than it has been for some years. This is due to substantial levels of foreign assistance, currently running at over 40 percent of total revenue. The EIU predicts Rwanda's real GDP will continue to grow in excess of the African average over the next two years, but warns the continuing war in DRC remains a threat both to Rwanda's security interests and the entire region's economic prospects.

SUDAN: Security key to avoiding repeat famine - OLS

An Annual Needs Assessment report by OLS warns of a bleak year ahead for more than four million Sudanese who have suffered from famine, fighting and flooding during 1994. According to an OLS statement received by IRIN on Tuesday, people living in Bahr al-Ghazal, Upper Nile and Kassala regions are particularly vulnerable and need assistance. The report warns: "A reversion to acute famine in Bahr al-Ghazal and the emergence of the acute condition in western Upper Nile cannot be ruled out." WFP estimates that more than two million people will need at least 150,000 mt of food until October 1999. [Full report available on IRIN-Extra service]

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: Improved food supply situation, but Somalia faces crisis

A special report by the FAO predicts a generally improved food supply situation for sub-Saharan Africa, with notable exceptions such as Somalia. A press release on the report, received on Tuesday by IRIN, notes "substantial increases" in food production in several areas. Above-average to record harvests were anticipated and therefore the sub-region's cereal imports were expected to be lower than last year, the report said. However, Somalia was among 13 countries listed in the report which were facing "exceptional" food emergencies. The report warned that a major food crisis was developing in Somalia, due to five consecutive reduced harvests caused by drought, civil strife, the worst floods in decades and pest infestations. Cases of malnutrition were high and on the increase. [Press release available on IRIN-Extra service].

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Election results announced

The party of President Ange-Felix Patasse, the Mouvement de liberation du peuple centrafricain (MLPC) won 49 of the 109 seats in the legislative elections of 22 November and 13 December, AFP said on Tuesday. Citing results released by the constitutional court in the capital Bangui, AFP said eight opposition parties won a total of 53 seats and the remaining seven seats were won by independent candidates. As no party got an absolute majority in the new parliament, the seven independent candidates hold the balance of power needed to form a government, it added.

Nairobi, 24 December 1998, 07:50 gmt


Date: Thu, 24 Dec 1998 10:55:46 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 52-98 1998.12.24

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

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