IRIN Update 441 for 19 June 1998.6.19

IRIN Update 441 for 19 June 1998.6.19

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

Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

IRIN Update No. 441 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 19 June 1998)

SUDAN: Sudan accuses Eritrea of shelling seven border posts

Sudanese state radio, monitored by the BBC, today (Friday) claimed that Eritrean forces yesterday (Thursday) shelled seven positions on the countries' common border. The report said that the attack, using tanks and artillery was repulsed and that an unstated number of Eritrean troops had been killed "while heavy and light military hardware was captured."

A spokesman for the Sudanese rebel National Democratic Alliance (NDA) disputed the claims, however, and instead told Reuters that NDA forces had launched two attacks yesterday east and southeast of Kassala.

The German press agency DPA quoted a Khartoum newspaper reporting that eight tanks used by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in their campaign in Blue Nile province had been returned to Ethiopia and Eritrea, who Khartoum says have been supporting the SPLA.

Pronk threatens to reduce aid for Sudan

Dutch Development Minister Jan Pronk said that he could not be sure that current levels of aid to Sudan could be sustained in his next aid budget unless there was progress in peace negotiations. Speaking at the end of a Sudan donor's conference in The Hague, the he said "there is fatigue with the lack of willingness of the warring parties to look after their people and fatigue with regard to the increasing costs of humanitarian aid."

BURUNDI: EU envoy hails progress at Arusha talks

The European Union's special envoy to the Great Lakes region said yesterday the factions discussing peace at talks in Arusha had made "impressive" progress. Media reports quoted Aldo Ajello as saying it had been "impressive to hear the discussions the delegates are having compared to just a few months ago". Mediator Julius Nyerere has held separate talks all week with the 20 delegations represented at the talks. Diplomatic sources said he was "quietly satisfied" with the progress so far.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: More Angolan refugees arrive

Angolan refugees are continuing to cross into DRC's Bandundu region, humanitarian sources told IRIN. They began crossing late May/early June at the rate of about 20 per day, but the number is increasing due to instability in northern Angola. A crisis committee has been established and has visited villages around the main town of Kahemba. It discovered over 1,000 people near Bindu village, while in Nzotu, near the border, at least 200 people were either on the road or in the bush, searching for food. Northeast of Kahemba, in Mwamushiko and Shaikwanda villages, some 407 people have been found. The sources said there were reports of malaria, malnutrition, diarrhea and respiratory problems among the refugees. An inter-agency mission is due to visit the area next week.

Banyamulenge and Bazibaziba representatives hold peace conference

Neighbouring Banyamulenge and Bazibaziba communities last week held a peace conference in Kaziba in eastern South Kivu province, the NGO Synergies Africa told IRIN today. It said that more than 100 delegates, including the Pacification Commission President General Luecha and several South Kivu traditional chiefs attended the 11-14 June meeting. Over 100 Mayi-Mayi fighters "who had laid down their arms" also allegedly took part. The Bazibaziba and the Banyamulenge have had tense relations in the area around Kaziba since the war in 1996.

Two journalists reported arrested

Two journalists from a satirical newspaper in DRC have been arrested, Reuters reported their colleagues as saying on Thursday. They said Achille Ekele Ngolyma and Guy Kasongo of 'Pot Pourri' had been held since Monday, but no reason for their detention had been given.

Meanwhile, German freelance journalist Peter Boehm told IRIN today that "journalists should be very careful", when visiting the country. On 15 May, he was released from detention in Kinshasa and expelled after spending over five weeks in the custody of the DRC authorities. He was arrested in Goma on 7 April, while taking photographs in a residential area. He was transferred to Kinshasa the following day, where Boehm says he was held by officials of the National Security Council. He smuggled a note to the German embassy after two weeks of being held incommunicado. He was finally charged with espionage and "endangering national security". Firmly denying the charges, Boehm says DRC officials questioned him about his accreditation and human rights-related documents in his hotel room in Goma. He claims belongings worth $600 were confiscated and not returned to him.

RWANDA: Death toll from attack on displaced rises to 25

The death toll from an attack on a displaced persons' camp in northern Rwanda has risen to 25 after two more people died of their wounds, news reports said today. At least 55 children were among the 85 wounded in Wednesday's attack at Nkamira, some 90 km northwest of Kigali. Rwandan radio said soldiers were searching the mountains along Rwanda's western border in an attempt to track down the rebel group, believed to be about 50 strong.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Malnutrition remains acute

Congo is gradually recovering from its civil war though there remain a number of areas of concern, according to the latest humanitarian report on the country. It said displaced people have continued to return to the devastated capital, but the erosion of the population's purchasing power in the face of prolonged economic inactivity means the Congolese still face major economic difficulties. Food security remains precarious for much of the population while the nutritional situation in Brazzaville, with an acute malnutrition rate of nine percent, has not improved significantly in recent months. The report said the public services were being slowly reactivated, but health and education systems remained very weak throughout the country.

The UN report also underlined that the ability of UN agencies to respond to urgent humanitarian and rehabilitation needs was hindered by insufficient resources. The 1998 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for the Congo had received only five percent identified requirements as of end-May.

Meanwhile, the Congolese government presented a three-year reconstruction programme to donors in Washington this week, AFP reported. The news agency added that the meeting, initiated by the World Bank and the European Union, was attended by the IMF, the African Development Bank (ADB) and several bilateral donors. Earlier, the week the government said it would be possible to hold general elections in the country within two years.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Former prime minister returns

The Central African Republic's former prime minister Jean-Paul Ngoupande returned to Bangui on Tuesday after a stay of several months in France and was greeted by several thousand supporters at the airport, AFP reported. Ngoupande was ousted from his post as prime minister in January 1997, seven months after his nomination by President Ange-Felix Patasse.

JUSTICE: Humanitarian crimes should fall under the International Criminal Court - IASC

The world's major humanitarian agencies have called for the proposed International Criminal Court (ICC) to be able to prosecute those responsible for crimes related to humanitarian situations. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee, a top-level policy forum which groups UN agencies, ICRC and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as well as NGO consortia made their call earlier this week as a large conference meets in Rome to discuss the possible establishment of the court.

The IASC statement says that the court should be able to prosecute "wilful denial of humanitarian assistance, direct attacks against civilians, forceful deportation or displacement of populations and other serious violations of international humanitarian law, committed both in international and internal armed conflict." The IASC also believes that attacks against humanitarian personnel should be considered as crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Given the sensitive information handling required, "adequate protective and non-disclosure measures would be necessary for cooperation between the Court and organizations involved in humanitarian activities", the IASC concludes. Further news and information on the five-week conference drafting the statute for the ICC

can be found on the Internet at: .

Nairobi, 19 June 1998 14:30 GMT


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or free subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-updates]

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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

Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

[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 25-98 covering the period 12 - 18 June 1998

BURUNDI: Buyoya sworn in as president, all-party talks start in Arusha

Military leader Major Pierre Buyoya has been sworn in as Burundi's president - two years after taking power in a coup. The swearing-in ceremony at the Kigobe Congress Palace in Bujumbura followed agreement between his government and the parliament on a new transitional constitution. The accord was designed to pave the way for the Tutsi-led government to share power with the country's mainly Hutu opposition.

Ahead of the start of all-party peace talks in Arusha on Monday, Buyoya then named two vice-presidents who, as part of the constitutional reform package, replace the premiership and gave 11 opposition members cabinet posts. However, the key ministerial posts of defence, finance and justice remain unchanged.

The two Vice-Presidents are Frederic Bamvuginyumvira, a Hutu who is currently president of the parliamentary group in the Frodebu party, and Mathias Sinamenye, an ethnic Tutsi who is currently the governor of the central bank. Despite the sweeping government changes, FRODEBU maintained reform of the Tutsi-dominated army would still be high on the agenda of the Arusha talks. "The army must be open to all ethnic groups," a senior official, Venerand Bakevyumusaya, told Reuters.

Regional leaders who attended the opening of the Arusha talks said sanctions against Burundi would be lifted "when irreversible progress has been made". Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa said sanctions would remain until the conflicting sides "show an interest in bringing about peace".

Nyerere pushes hard for ceasefire deal

At the talks themselves, peace process mediator Julius Nyerere pushed hard all week in separate meetings with all parties to agree a ceasefire as a first step towards an overall accord. News organisations reported that the government side reportedly agreed to put an end to hostilities and to continue negotiations, but the main CNDD (Conseil National pour la defense de la democratie) rebel group remained opposed. CNDD, however, is split on the issue.

Leonard Nyangoma attended the talks as CNDD president despite the announcement by the movement in May that he had been suspended and replaced by Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye, formerly FDD's chief-of-staff. The organisation's spokesperson Jerome Ndiho said in a press release received by IRIN on Thursday that CNDD-FDD was not invited to the Arusha peace talks and warned against "those who continue to conclude agreements in the name of CNDD".

Informed sources told IRIN the CNDD split could be crucial to the success of attempts by mediator Nyerere to persuade all factions to agree a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, the leader-in-exile of FRODEBU (Front pour la democratie au Burundi) Jean Minani has called for "unconditional" talks to end armed struggle, Burundi radio reported. Minani, who was at first opposed to a recent "partnership" deal between his party and the Burundian government, said that as negotiations were in progress and as "everybody was committed to finding a solution" the armed struggle was no longer justified.

UNICEF reports "alarming" food situation

The state of food supplies for children in Burundi is alarming, UNICEF warned in a press release on Wednesday, adding that children under five were specifically affected. These represent 71 percent of some 35,839 people registered as suffering from chronic malnutrition. In total, more than 50,000 people are suffering from malnutrition in the country and are being treated through 248 feeding centres, including 24 therapeutic feeding centres. MSF has also reported high malnutrition rates in numerous provinces in Burundi.

RWANDA: Over 2,000 genocide suspects register to plead guilty

Some 2,086 genocide suspects held in two Rwandan prisons have indicated they are ready to confess their guilt, the Rwandan news agency (RNA) reported. The inmates made their wishes known to justice ministry officials visiting two prisons in Kibungo prefecture in the eastern part of the country. RNA said the new wave of confessions brought the number of genocide suspects who have applied for confessions since the public execution of 22 people last April to about 5,000.

Hutu rebels attack displaced camp, killing several

Hutu rebels massacred several people and injured dozens of others, some seriously, in an overnight raid on a displaced persons' camp in northern Rwanda, according to news reports. Quoting survivors, AFP reported some 23 people had been killed and a further 62 injured. Earlier, ARI, a private Rwandan news agency, gave lower provisional figures for the attack on Namira camp in northwestern Gisenyi prefecture.

Growing food needs in northwest

A report by USAID, quoting local authorities, says there are an estimated 58,000 displaced people in northwest Gisenyi prefecture and 48,000 in Ruhengeri. According to the report, the Rwandan government has indicated it will be unable to provide for an increased and continued emergency response. The report points out WFP has begun transporting food aid into the region. The US embassy has intervened to allow monitoring of food deliveries in Gisenyi, the report said. It added that adequate monitoring is very difficult and negotiated on a daily basis.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila vows to go ahead with polls

President Laurent-Desire Kabila has pledged to go ahead with planned general elections next year, with or without foreign aid, Reuters reported. Kabila told a meeting in Kinshasa last Thursday evening the government was going "to stick to our timetable, even if no-one comes to our aid". In a continuing crackdown on corruption, the authorities also arrested 27 tax officials in Kinshasa for alleged illegal deals, involving the sale of driving licences, vehicle number plates and other documents.

Over 10,000 apply for proposed assemblies

Meanwhile, over 10,000 people have applied for membership to the proposed Constituent and Legislative Assemblies, Congolese television reported. The television quoted the first deputy chairman of the Constitutional Commission, Delphin Banza Kangakoloa, as saying there would be no extension of last Friday's deadline and ruled out "quotas" to ensure people from the provinces and abroad were represented. "We want to set up a body to prepare for the elections and work out modalities for putting in place all the institutions of the future republic," he was quoted as saying. In a 25 May presidential decree, Kabila declared any member of the new assembly had to be Congolese and not a "notorious dignatory" of the former regime of Mobutu Sese-Seko.

Meanwhile, DRC Information and Media Minister Didier Mumengi announced that Kinshasa will host the next COMESA Heads of State summit on 29 June. The summit will be preceded by a meeting of experts and ministers.

Human rights report to be sent to DRC, Rwanda

UN spokesman Fred Eckard has said a report by the UN team that investigated alleged human rights violations in DRC earlier this year will be sent to the governments of Rwanda and DRC for their "advance information". The report will then be transmitted to the Security Council on 21 June, and will consequently be made public.

Thousands of Angolans arrive in DRC

Approximately 3,000 Angolans have arrived in Katanga and another 1,500 have arrived in Bandundu, humanitarian sources in Kinshasa told IRIN. However, these figures are thought to be an underestimation. An inter-agency assessment mission will visit these two places over the next two days to assess the situation, the sources added.

Sacked Brussels envoy formally breaks with Kabila

Sacked DRC Ambassador to Belgium Justine Kasa-Vubu finally broke with the government headed by DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila, accusing it of involvement in a plot to discredit opposition veteran leader Etienne Tshisekedi. Kasa-Vubu, daughter of the country's first post-independence president, was dismissed as ambassador to Belgium by Kabila at the beginning of this month, but refused to stand down. Kinshasa accused her of failing to support Kabila's government and of snubbing Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha on a recent visit to Brussels. For several years, Kasa-Vubu was the Brussels representative of the opposition UDPS (Union pour la democratie et le progres social) party headed by Tshisekedi, but joined Kabila's movement after he came to power in May 1997. In Kinshasa, Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji issued a statement formally denying Kasa-Vubu's accusations.

Baby boom among Virunga mountain gorillas

The Virunga National Park in North Kivu, after suffering 18 months of civil unrest and damage caused by refugee movements, has registered a "baby boom" among the threatened mountain gorillas. According to a press release by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP), received by IRIN, 10 baby gorillas have been born in the last 18 months, many of them in families which have been violently upset by events in recent years. Huge refugee camps on the park's border and the subsequent exodus had a devastating impact on the park and its wildlife. The statement goes on to say that despite enormous problems and challenges in the region, conservation efforts are making a difference and the mountain gorillas are continuing to survive.

UGANDA: Commanding officer faces court martial over rebel attack

The commanding officer and more than 20 soldiers in an army detachment which failed to repel an attack by rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been arrested and will be court martialled. Media reports alleged the officer, whose rank and identity were not revealed, and many of his men deserted their posts during the attack on Kichwamba technical school in western Uganda last week. At least 48 people died in the attack and over 100 students are still missing, many believed abducted.

Museveni defends himself on chat show

President Yoweri Museveni, fed up with two hours of criticism on a radio talk show, personally called up the station to defend himself. Reuters said he delivered a 20-minute monologue, thanked listeners and then hung up. Responding to the criticism in the 'Your Parliament' programme, broadcast by the private Central Broadcasting Service, Museveni defended his controversial land bill, the presence of Rwandan minorities in Uganda and the suspension of political party activities.

Insecurity hinders humanitarian activities

The recent upsurge of rebel activities has led to a significant reduction and, in some cases, suspension of relief activities, including emergency food distributions, in northern and western Uganda, WFP reported in its weekly emergency report. Humanitarian sources told IRIN that some humanitarian organisations had relocated their staff from the field, notably from the Kitgum region.

SUDAN: Khartoum pledges cooperation with UN on children in armed conflict

The Sudanese government has pledged cooperation with the United Nations on the issue of children in armed conflicts, local press reports said on Monday. They quoted Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha as telling visiting UN envoy Olara Otunnu that Sudan was prepared to cooperate in protecting and guaranteeing the safety of minors in combat zones. Otunnu, the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, arrived in Khartoum on Saturday for talks with Sudanese officials on the issue. Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed a new Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs for Sudan. Annan named Tom Vraalsen, who is currently Norway's Ambassador to the US, to the job. Vraalsen succeeds Robe Schaik who has announced his resignation, effective 15 June 1998.

Government plane bombs World Vision feeding centre

A Sudanese government Antonov bomber dropped six bombs around an emergency feeding centre, run by World Vision International (WVI), at Panacier in southern Sudan's Gogrial County, the NGO said in a statement in Nairobi last Friday. The WVI statement said the attack took place the previous day at 11:30 a.m. local time. There were no casualties.

Government claims successes in Blue Nile and Kassala provinces

A pro-government newspaper 'Alwan' claimed that government forces had killed 100 rebels and wounded 180 others in southeastern Blue Nile province, AFP reported from Khartoum. The report did not specify where the clash took place, but said "on the way to Kurmuk". Rebel-held Kurmuk is on the Ethiopian border. Two locations occupied by SPLA rebels in Kassala have been retaken by government forces, according to a provincial official quoted by the 'Akhbar Al-Youm' newspaper, AFP reported on Tuesday.

Clashes in western Sudan

Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes western Sudan between the Fur and Messelit ethnic groups, the governor of western Darfur province said on Wednesday. The governor, Ibrahim Abdel-Rahman told the 'Akhbar Al-Youm' newspaper that 235 people were killed and 43 injured recently. Thousands of other Sudanese are reported to have fled into neighbouring Chad to escape the fighting.

KENYA: Screening of Rwandans and Burundians starts in Nairobi

Screening of Rwandan and Burundian asylum seekers started last week in Nairobi, UNHCR told IRIN on Wednesday. Similar screenings aimed at determining the status of asylum seekers have or are taking place in other central African countries, such as the Central African Republic and Angola. UNHCR estimates there are a total of some 8,000 Rwandans and Burundians in Kenya.

East African-US military exercises begin

A joint military exercise between East African and US troops was launched this week in Lodwar, Turkana District, the 'Daily Nation' reported. It said more than 100 Kenyan and US paratroopers began the operation on Wednesday with a drop from a US C130 military transport plane about 10 km from the town. They were welcomed by Kenya's Chief of Staff General Daudi Tonje and his counterparts in the Ugandan and Tanzanian armed forces, Alhaji Abubakar Jeje Odongo and Robert Mboma respectively.

UNITED NATIONS: Holbrooke named new US ambassador to the United Nations

The United States has appointed Richard Holbrooke, the architect of the Dayton peace accords which ended the Bosnian war, as the country's new ambassador to the United Nations. Holbrooke, renowned for a "straight-talking, no-nonsense" approach to diplomacy, takes over from Bill Richardson. Richardson was recently appointed the new US Energy Secretary.

Nairobi, 19 June 1998 11:00 GMT


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-weekly]

Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 17:46:28 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 441 for 19 June 1998.6.19 Message-ID: <>

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

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