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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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[The weekly roundup is based on IRIN daily updates and other relevant information from UN agencies, NGOs, governments, donors and the media. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.]
Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 1-98 covering the period 19 Dec 1997-1 Jan 1998
RWANDA: Army kills 50 rebels after fresh attack on refugees
At least 50 Hutu rebels were killed by the Rwandan army after they attacked a transit centre at Nkamira, Gisenyi in northeast Rwanda on 18 December, news organisations reported. The centre was housing some 16,000 survivors of the earlier 10 December Mudende refugee camp massacre. Rwandan state radio quoted an army spokesman as saying 30 Tutsi civilians, two refugees and two soldiers were also killed in clashes at Nkamira and around a nearby military camp at Bigogwe. The government urged people to remain calm and cooperate with the armed forces in trying to track down those responsible for the recent spate of attacks.
UNHCR meanwhile said 16 trucks carrying survivors of the Mudende attack arrived safely in Bymuba prefecture after agreement was reached with the authorities on a new site at Gihembe on 22 December. More trucks were due to follow. The new camp is intended to offer better security for about 12,000-15,000 mainly Tutsi refugees from the Masisi area of eastern DRC. Two human rights groups - Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues - called on the UN to thoroughly investigate the Mudende massacre. They said the Rwandan government should also look into why the army had failed to protect the refugees. Vice-President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame vowed to defeat Hutu rebels in the country, stressing the army had the capacity to contain the insurgency.
UN, US react to release of genocide suspect
UN spokesman Fred Eckhard on 30 December reacted to the release of a genocide suspect by a court in Texas, USA. He said no comments would be made on the internal workings of a judicial system but it was hoped the suspect, Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, would eventually be brought to justice. Ntakirutimana was freed about two weeks ago by a federal magistrate in Texas who said an extradition agreement between the US and the UN war crimes tribunals was unconstitutional. Ntakirutimana, a 73 year-old pastor who spent 14 months in a Texas jail, is accused of ordering the killing of Tutsis hiding in a church during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. He arrived in the US in December 1994 and was arrested some 20 months later. The State Department expressed regret over the magistrate's decision, saying the issue was not closed.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Aid workers pulled out of Baraka
Aid workers pulled out of Baraka in eastern DRC on 22 December as reports reached them of an infiltration of the town by Mai-Mai rebels. Humanitarian sources told IRIN the situation was further complicated by a landslide on the road between Baraka and the town of Uvira which they were trying to reach. Sources in the area confirmed that gunshots were heard around Baraka. UNHCR decided to delay the latest group of Congolese returnees who were due to arrive from Kigoma, Tanzania and land for the first time directly at the newly-rehabilitated port at Baraka.
UN human rights team held up again
The UN human rights investigation team withdrew from Mbandaka and Wendji in northwestern DRC after large protest demonstrations by local people. Referring to the latest delays in the work of the mission, UN spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt said on 18 December the next few days would be "critical for establishing some kind of definite solution to this impasse." In a report released on 18 December, Human Rights Watch described the situation in DRC as "dangerous for the average Congolese".
Patasse denies CAR rear base for attacking DRC
Central African Republic President Ange-Felix Patasse, on a one-day visit to Kinshasa on 30 December, denied his country was being used as a rear base by former Zairean officials to attack DRC. Patasse told DRC television the allegations were "just rumours". "We will never agree to people attacking the DRC from our country," he said.
Kabila gives details of forthcoming reshuffle
DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila said a recently-announced cabinet reshuffle was aimed at giving the government "greater impetus so that it performs better". He told a news conference on 24 December the reshuffle, due to take place on 3 January, was not a reflection of weakness in the present cabinet, but a way of benefiting from the experience gained over the past seven months. "Our government is a transition government whose mission is to lead the country to democracy," he added. Kabila also urged supporters of ex-president Mobutu Sese Seko to return and invest in the country.
Kisangani declared disaster zone
The DRC government on 25 December declared the flood-hit town of Kisangani a disaster area, DRC radio reported from Bunia. A large section of the town was under water after the Congo and Tshopo rivers burst their banks. The government appealed for help from humanitarian organisations. UNICEF announced it was airlifting US $57,000 worth of relief supplies from Kinshasa to assist an estimated 10,000 victims of the flooding. The town has been without power and drinking water due to the floods.
UGANDA/KENYA: Food security adversely affected by floods
According to a DHA-Geneva report, flooding in Uganda has left an estimated 100 people dead and a further 150,000 displaced. Many others are critically injured and thousands of acres of food and cash crops have been washed away. The Ugandan government has appealed for funds to purchase seeds of fast early maturing crops and the necessary farm tools. In neighbouring Kenya, an estimated 300,000 people have been displaced or affected by floods in northern, eastern and coastal parts of the country. The report said excessive rainfall had resulted in stunted crops such as maize and beans and difficulty in harvesting mature crops.
KENYA: Moi takes early lead in chaotic elections
Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi took an early lead in presidential elections held on 29 December, but analysts said it was too early to identify a trend in the results, news agencies reported. The ruling KANU party also led in the parliamentary poll. The chaotic general elections sparked intense controversy with politicians of all stripes trading allegations of rigging and unanimously condemning the performance of the country's electoral commission. At least five people died on 30 December in political violence in the Rift Valley town of Nakuru.
Mystery disease may be anthrax
Kenyan health officials investigated the possibility that an anthrax epidemic was responsible for the deaths of some 250 people in the semi-arid North Eastern Province over the past two weeks. The 'Daily Nation' reported on 27 December that Kenyan health ministry director James Mwanzia said the deaths of hundreds of camels, goats and sheep in the same area exhibiting similar symptoms to those in humans - that is bleeding through the body orifices - was leading the investigation towards a possible link between the human and livestock deaths.
BURUNDI: Bujumbura hospitals overstretched by malaria outbreak
An outbreak of malaria in Burundi caused overcrowding in Bujumbura's hospitals and medical services were stretched, Burundi radio reported on 29 December. It quoted the director of the Prince Louis Rwagasore clinic, Dr Tharcisse Nzeyimana, as saying the disease coincided with the rainy season which began in October. Meanwhile, the director of Burundi's pharmaceutical company ONAPHA denied spreading rumours of a shortage of anti-malarial drugs. Nestor Ntibateganya said the company had adequate quantities of chloroquine and quinine, but admitted fansidar was in short supply. The current outbreak of malaria had increased consumption three-fold, he added.
UN envoy calls for sanctions review
A UN envoy to Burundi on 22 December called for an urgent review of economic sanctions against the country in recognition of the government's efforts to improve security and human rights there, AFP reported. "The time has come for serious consideration of the usefulness of economic sanctions," the agency quoted UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burundi, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, as saying. Following a recent visit to Burundi, he also said both Tutsis and Hutus were victims of violence and that in a war situation, it was very difficult to improve human rights.
TANZANIA: Minister denies rebels operating from Tanzania
Tanzania denied reports that rebel groups were operating from its territory. Tanzanian radio quoted Deputy Interior Minister Sigela Nswima as saying his country had never given sanctuary to any rebel group. He accused Burundi of circulating the reports to "seek sympathy" from the international community. The 'EastAfrican' weekly on 22 December said a group of Ugandan parliamentarians, who recently visited Burundi, concluded that rebels from Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda were receiving support from Sudan and operating from Tanzania. Nswima dismissed the allegations as "mere propaganda aimed at misleading the international community". The Ugandan MPs also warned of rifts developing in the region over rebel activity.
GREAT LAKES: Sahnoun calls for all-inclusive approach to regional problems
Mohamed Sahnoun, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Africa, has called for a comprehensive approach to the problems in the Great Lakes region, the UN said in a statement from its New York headquarters on 22 December. In an interview with UN Radio, Sahnoun noted that Burundi and Rwanda were among the most densely-populated countries in the world, placing great stress on scarce resources. "People feel insecure and this is one of the reasons why they fight each other or why they align themselves into ethnic or tribal groups," he said.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Party dissidents move to dismiss
A dissident wing of ousted president Pascal Lissouba's Union panafricaine pour la democratie sociale (UPADS) party moved to dismiss him from the party leadership, Brazzaville's official Radio Liberte said on 30 December. The dissidents, led by Martin Mberi, a former Lissouba aide now serving in the new government of Denis Sassou Nguesso, convened a party conference in the southern city of Pointe-Noire to formally sack Lissouba. Former premier Bernard Kolelas was earlier stripped of his position as head of the MCDDI party.
France to back Brazzaville in negotiations with donors
France's new ambassador to Brazzaville said Paris was "prepared to back Congo" in a renewed dialogue with international lenders. Ambassador Herve Bolot, who presented his credentials on 29 December, told AFP in Kinshasa by telephone that "Congo has every interest in resuming dialogue with the European Union (EU), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the African Development Bank." Congo's structural adjustment accord with the IMF and the World Bank was derailed by the four-month civil war, which erupted in June. The EU has said it will not resume aid until democracy is restored. Meanwhile the Congolese authorities netted 5,000 weapons in a countrywide disarmament operation over the past week.
SUDAN: About 80,000 affected by new outbrek of river blindness
Some 80,000 people have lost their sight due to a new outbreak of river blindness in Sudan, AFP reported a Sudanese health official as saying. The agency said Leila Abulfutuh was quoted in the 'Al Rai Al Akher' newspaper on 21 December as saying that 95 percent of Raga town's 400,000 inhabitants had contracted the disease and some 20 percent, around 80,000 people, were already blind. Raga is situated on a river of the same name in Bahr Al Ghazal, some 75 km from Sudan's border with Central Africa Republic. Abulfutuh said the Sudanese health ministry and WHO were cooperating to fight the disease.
ANGOLA: UNITA orders halt to work of NGOs in Jamba
Angola's former rebel movement UNITA has ordered a halt to the work of non-governmental organisations at its jungle stronghold in southeastern Jamba, AFP quoted sources close to the movement as saying on 23 December. UNITA took the step after the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said the area around Jamba was mined, and charged that UNITA was impeding the work of humanitarian organisations.
Nairobi, 2 January 1998
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Date: Fri, 2 Jan 1998 16:01:51 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 1-98 19 Dec 1997-1 Jan 98 98.1.2 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980102155955.24459Iemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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