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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 13-98 covering the period 20-26 Mar 1998
RWANDA: Clinton admits world's failure over genocide
US President Bill Clinton paid a lightning visit to Kigali airport during the east African leg of his visit to the continent. Addressing government leaders and genocide survivors on Wednesday, he commented that the world did not act quickly enough to stop the 1994 slaughter. Neither should the refugee camps have been allowed to become safe havens for the rebels, he said to loud applause. His visit was surrounded by controversy after he declined to visit a specially-constructed genocide memorial for security reasons. According to a BBC report, the Rwandan government expressed disappointment and bewilderment over the decision, but a US official said it had never been agreed Clinton would visit the memorial.
Genocide survivors say Clinton speech an "apology"
In a separate meeting with six genocide survivors, Clinton remarked that "just listening to the survivors gave me reasons for hope", AFP reported. The Rwanda News Agency said survivors hailed Clinton's visit as a "testimony of sincere solidarity". "Clinton's speech was in a way an apology for the failure by the international community to stop the genocide," said Josue Kayijaho, vice-president of the genocide survivors' association, Ibuka.
"Critical problems" still to be addressed - Bizimungu
President Pasteur Bizimungu, in his speech at Kigali airport, also welcomed Clinton's visit as a "show of solidarity with the victims and a challenge to the international community to work together" to prevent another genocide. In his speech, broadcast live by Rwandan radio on Wednesday, Bizimungu stressed there were still "critical areas" in Rwanda needing international support and understanding. "Our post-genocide society is fragile and therefore Rwanda should be treated as a special case," he said.
Wave of killings continues
Ahead of Clinton's visit, Hutu rebels continued their wave of killing. RNA said 17 Tutsi returnees from 1959 were massacred by a group of about 100 militiamen on Monday in the commune of Kanama, in northwest Gisenyi prefecture. A BBC report put the number of dead at 40. On Tuesday night, five students were killed and seven injured in a rebel attack on their school in Nkuli commune, Ruhengeri prefecture. In another incident, five Rwandan nuns were released after being abducted by rebels in Kivumu commune on Sunday night. Two Spanish nuns from the order of Sainte Anne de la Charite were still in captivity, but were able to contact their families and stressed they were being treated well and expected to be freed soon, Reuters said.
French parliamentary committee hears testimonies on genocide
French parliamentarians on Tuesday began public hearings into France's role during the 1994 genocide, media reports said. The first witnesses - experts on Rwandan history and society - said the French embassy in Rwanda was badly informed about local realities and sided uncritically with the Hutu extremists. They added that the Hutus were trained by the French military, while French organisations did nothing to protect their Tutsi employees. One expert, cited by AFP, pointed out that French intervention at the political, military and aid levels had been based on a "deep lack of knowledge" of a complex ethnic situation. Former minister Paul Quiles who heads the probe said the aim was not to create a parliamentary-style commission. However, French Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou on Wednesday dismissed assertions that there were legal obstacles to a fully-fledged parliamentary enquiry.
Akayesu prosecution winds up case
The prosecution in the case of genocide suspect Jean-Paul Akayesu concluded its case on Monday, with a call for the defendant to be found guilty on all 15 counts against him. Akayesu, the former mayor of Taba in Gitarama prefecture, has been on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha. In a closing speech, the prosecution claimed Akayesu "possessed the requisite genocidal intent to eliminate the Tutsi". "The [Trial] Chamber should send a strong message to Mr Akayesu that what he did is unacceptable and should never happen again," Prosecutor Pierre Prosper said, according to an ICTR press release.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Rwandan refugee camp to be shut
The CAR authorities on Wednesday decided to close the Bouca refugee camp which houses some 200 Rwandan refugees, after local people attacked the camp in revenge for the deaths of two CAR policemen and their driver at the hands of four ex-FAR soldiers. UNHCR told IRIN four Hutu refugees were killed, but the CAR opposition daily 'Vouma' put the death toll at 40. The refugees will now be repatriated, the CAR information minister said, according to AFP.
UGANDA: Clinton, African leaders pledge to fight genocide
US President Bill Clinton and six African leaders ended a summit meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, on Wednesday night with pledges to fight genocide and work for economic growth and democracy, Reuters reported. The meeting concluded with the signing of an Entebbe Declaration of Principles. Speaking before flying off to South Africa, Clinton said they had "agreed to work together to banish genocide from this region and this continent." "Our efforts came too late for yesterday's victims," he added. "They must be in time to prevent tomorrow's victims." The US president also said he wanted to increase US aid to Africa to its previous level of some US $815 million per year. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni described Clinton as "far-sighted" in being able to see Africa's potential. The summit was attended by the leaders of Uganda, Kenya, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
The main points of the declaration were to: - define and build a US-Africa partnership for the 21st century - define strategies to integrate Africa into the world economy - strengthen and sustain regional security and African peacekeeping capacity - continue to cooperate against cross-border terrorism directed at civilians - pursue dialogue on democratisation while realising "there is no fixed model for democratic institutions or transformation".
Clinton meets Kabila, Moi
Clinton held separate meetings with Presidents Laurent-Desire Kabila of DRC and Daniel arap Moi of Kenya. Press reports quoted a Clinton aide as saying Kabila promised "fair elections" in his country, adding that the current ban on political activity was an interim measure necessary for "restoring order". Clinton reportedly told Kabila he had had a hard struggle to liberate DRC from authoritarian rule. "You haven't come this far to fail," Clinton was quoted as saying. "You have to help us help you." He also urged President Moi to open up Kenya's economy and accelerate political reform.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN team finds empty mass grave site
UN investigators digging in northern DRC discovered a mass grave site with all the bodies removed, a UN spokesman said on Wednesday, according to Reuters. Juan-Carlos Brandt said preliminary exploration of the site near Mbandaka on 18 March "confirmed the existence of at least one mass grave, whose contents appeared to have been removed several months after burial, possibly in an attempt to destroy evidence." The team was forced to pull out of Mbandaka at the weekend after hostility from local people. UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson said she was "deeply worried" that the team had had to withdraw, and accused the DRC authorities of obstructing its work. She called on Kinshasa to ensure there were no further obstructions to the mission's work currently underway in Goma.
BURUNDI: Clinton urged to impose arms embargo
A coalition of humanitarian and religious organisations urged President Clinton to call for an arms embargo on Burundi during his African tour. A press release issued by one of the organisations, Refugees International, said the embargo should target all sides in the Burundi conflict. "This would be a meaningful strike against genocide in a region that has experienced far too much bloodshed," said David Shorr of Refugees International.
FAO/WFP forecast 1998 decline in food production
A joint FAO/WFP mission has forecast 1998A season total food production at 1,142,000 mt, a decline of two percent on the 1997A season production which was itself below average. In comparison with average season A production between 1988-93, the 1998 first season figure is 20 percent lower. The greatest falls are expected to hit the pulses and cereals sectors - 16 percent and 13 percent respectively.
The mission noted an improvement in security conditions which had allowed some of the population in regroupment and displacement camps to return to their farms during the second half of 1997. Thus, it said, the number of people in camps fell by 14 percent between June 1997 and January 1998 from 665,374 to 572,462 or nine percent of the total population as of February 1998. The mission noted that this population movement, together with repatriation from outside the country, had led to an increase in planted areas in the 1998A season.
WFP announces start of airlift for malnourished children
WFP said in a statement released in Nairobi on Tuesday it would start an airlift of life-saving food for 37,000 malnourished children in nutritional centres throughout Burundi. The UN food agency said in the first of 20 flights from Dar es Salaam, a WFP-chartered Boeing 707 would on Wednesday deliver 34 mt of powdered milk to Bujumbura airport. Over the next 10 days, WFP will deliver to Burundi a total of 600 mt of sugar, powdered milk, oil and pulses which will be used in 111 therapeutic, and supplementary and hospital feeding centres throughout the country. The statement said this would be the first large-scale airlift of food to the central African country since 1994. The airlift is funded by ECHO at a cost of US $500,000.
TANZANIA: 30 Burundian youths removed from a Kigoma refugee camp
Tanzanian authorities have arrested some 30 Burundian youths allegedly undergoing military training in a refugee camp in Kigoma. The coordinator of refugees in the home affairs ministry, Jose Mwakasyuka, said the group was transferred from Nduta in the western Kigoma region to Kigwa camp in the central-western region of Tabora, the local 'Guardian' reported on Monday. The paper said the youths were being closely monitored. Humanitarian sources in Kigoma confirmed the round-up had taken place, "but it was still far from proven" they were rebel recruits.
KENYA: Humanitarian crisis worse than expected: UNICEF
Waterborne diseases, malnutrition and malaria are rife in parts of northeast Kenya hit by months of flooding, UNICEF said on Saturday. The humanitarian crisis, it added in a report, was more serious than previously expected. Up to 50 percent of children under five were suffering from malnutrition and malaria was killing five to 10 people a month in hospital, and 15-20 a week in Mandera district. The report was based on field trips to Marsabit, Moyale, Tana River, Garissa, Isiolo, Wajir, Busia and Mandera. "The findings reveal a toll of misery for virtually the entire population of the districts visited," UNICEF said.
Students riot in central Nairobi
Violent clashes broke out in Nairobi on Monday after students rioted to protest against university admission procedures. Clouds of tear gas billowed along Uhuru highway as students and police fought running battles. Three cars were burnt, and two injuries reported. Police also fired live ammunition into the air. A member of the Nairobi university staff told IRIN that the students had taken to the streets after three appeals to the university vice-chancellor had been ignored. The university was later closed.
SUDAN: Rapid collapse in food security situation in Bahr el-Ghazal
Humanitarian agencies are witnessing a "dramatic collapse" in the food security situation in northern and central Bahr el-Ghazal. "The situation all around us is deteriorating markedly, visibly," a senior aid agency official told IRIN on Tuesday. He said he was "extremely worried over the speed of the deterioration even though we are putting in some support." According to WFP, around 350,000 people are at risk and urgently need food assistance. This figure includes 248,000 people "who are not completely down and out" but have faced two consecutive years of low crop yields and need support to see them through the traditional "hunger gap" until the coming harvest. This already fragile food security situation has been overwhelmed by the arrival of at least 100,000 displaced people fleeing fighting in government-held areas. Their impact has been particularly marked as it seems they were in a far more weakened state in the towns than had been originally thought. "It appears they were holding a lower level of resources and less robust," the aid official said.
EAST AFRICA: FAO slams EU fish import ban
The FAO has criticised an EU ban on fish imports from East African countries affected by cholera. In a statement released on Wednesday, FAO said the move was not the most appropriate reaction. A better response would be to support improvements in hygiene, safe water supply, fish processing and storage. The statement stressed the risk of transmission from contaminated fish was negligible. Import restrictions "will disturb international trade and may encourage illegal trade, posing a potentially higher threat to consumers," FAO added. The countries affected by the ban are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique.
Nairobi, 27 March 1998
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Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 12:19:19 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 13-98 20-26 Mar 98.3.27 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980327121740.14442Afirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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