IRIN Weekly Round-up 29-98 10-16 July 1998.7.17

IRIN Weekly Round-up 29-98 10-16 July 1998.7.17

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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[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 29-98 covering the period 10-16 July 1998

SUDAN: Government, SPLA announce Bahr al-Ghazal ceasefire

The Sudanese government and the main Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) rebel movement announced a three-month ceasefire to allow food aid to be delivered to famine victims in southern Bahr al-Ghazal province. The rebels described their gesture as a "humanitarian truce" and said it was a "unilateral and unconditional" action and had nothing to do with issues of war and peace in Sudan.

News reports quoted Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail as saying the details of the government ceasefire would be declared "after the rebel movement accepts an overall ceasefire". He said President Omar al-Bashir had replied positively to a request for a ceasefire from Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi who is heading a regional peace initiative. The ceasefire is expected to allow the humanitarian community to open up three "safe corridors" into the famine-hit province though aid workers cautioned many roads would be impassable until mid-October as a result of prevailing weather conditions.

OLS welcomes ceasefire, but says more needed

OLS welcomed the rebel ceasefire and said it hoped it would contribute to reducing tensions and conflict in the area, but stressed that it was not sufficient to bring respite to the people south Sudan. "What is needed is a prolonged period of peace to enable people to recover from the trauma of war," OLS said in a statement. OLS also said the ceasefire would have no impact in the area of western Upper Nile where populations had been displaced, NGO compounds destroyed and relief programmes disrupted. It added other areas of southern Sudan with important humanitarian needs are also not covered. "As long as the conflict continues, neither OLS nor any other form of humanitarian response will be able to meet the needs of all war-affected people," the OLS statement concluded.

NGOs in general gave a guarded welcome to the ceasefire gesture, saying it may make little real difference. AFP reported World Vision Sudan head Bruce Menser as saying it was "a token effort which has come too late". He added it came at a time when heavy rains made road transport virtually impossible and reduced military activity.

Martin Griffiths, the UN's deputy emergency relief coordinator, who was on a visit to Khartoum this week, told IRIN any step which reduced conflict must be welcomed, but the humanitarian community would like to see a ceasefire covering a broader area and longer time period. He said many of the roads in the area would be impassable for reasons of climate until mid-October,

but WFP was examining the possibility of sending a train carrying 1,500 mt twice a month through to Wau with other stop-off points en route.

Clashes kill 49 people

Recent clashes between former rebels in southern Sudan have killed 49 people, Reuters reported. It said the independent 'al-Rai al-Alam' daily quoted James Mabor, a member of the coordinating council for southern Sudan, as saying the Southern Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF), led by Riak Machar, and forces loyal to commander Paulino Matip clashed in Unity state, about 850 km southwest of the capital Khartoum. The SSDF groups six former rebel factions that made peace with Khartoum last year.

WFP details food deliveries

WFP has detailed its food deliveries in southern Sudan for the month of June. In its latest weekly report, the agency said it had delivered some 6,400 mt. Deliveries by air and by road were as follows:

1,037 mt by air ex-El Obeid; 3,955 mt by air ex-Lokichokio; 659 mt by road ex-Lokichokio; 744 mt by road ex-Koboko; 20 mt by road ex-Nzara. Out of this figure, 4,018 mt of relief food were delivered and distributed to some 590,000 beneficiaries in Bahr al-Ghazal. To deliver the 6,400 mt, a total of 282 flights by C-130 transport planes and 71 Buffalo flights took place. The total delivered by air was 4,991 mt and the total delivered by road was 1,426 mt.

SUDAN-UGANDA: WFP condemns killing of agency worker

WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini has strongly condemned the killing of a WFP worker in Uganda on Wednesday 8 July. "This is a vicious and senseless killing of one of our dedicated colleagues," she said during a visit to the UN's New York headquarters on Thursday. She called on the Ugandan authorities to fully investigate the "tragic and inhumane act".

William Asiku, a Ugandan national working as a driver for WFP in the northern Ugandan town of Arua, was driving back from WFP's office in Pakelle when 12 heavily-armed men suddenly appeared on the road with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and stopped the clearly-marked WFP vehicle. While another passenger in the vehicle escaped, the men dragged Asiku to the side of the road and killed him. They then blew up the vehicle.

UGANDA: LRA-government in exploratory talks

Representatives of the Ugandan rebel movement, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), and the government of President Yoweri Museveni met in Nairobi recently in an attempt to revive peace talks which collapsed three years ago, Minister of State Muruli Mukasa told IRIN on Friday. He gave no further details. Uganda's daily 'New Vision' newspaper reported that the district chairmen of Gulu and Kitgum, Lieutenant-Colonel Walter Ochora and John Bosco Oryem respectively, travelled to Nairobi on 1 July to meet eight LRA officers. "There is a political will and we are ready to talk if the dissidents show good faith," Mukasa told IRIN.

RWANDA: More than 30 killed in World Cup final attack

Some 34 people were killed in an attack by suspected Hutu militias on a hotel where people had gathered to watch Sunday's World Cup final, news organisations reported. They said the attack took place in Tare, some 35

kilometres northwest of the capital Kigali. Survivors were quoted as saying the attackers used petrol on many of their victims who were burned beyond recognition. Some of the dead were killed with machetes. Others were shot. At least 25 bodies were buried in a communal grave next to the hotel. Others were left around the burnt-out remains of the building.

In a graveside speech, the governor of Kigale-Rurale, Wellars Gasamagera, told peasants to remain vigilant and avoid collaborating with Hutu insurgents scattered across the central African country's volatile northwest.

Belgium seeks extradition of former Rwandan officer

Belgium has asked Tanzania to extradite former Rwandan army major Bernard Ntuyahaga, in connection with the death in 1994 of 10 Belgian paratroopers serving in the UN peacekeeping force, Reuters quoted Brussels prosecutors as saying on Tuesday. Last Friday, Ntuyahaga became the first suspect to give himself up to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, sitting in Arusha, northern Tanzania.

Kidnapped nuns freed

Three nuns who were kidnapped by rebels last week have been released, according to the bishop of Byumba, Servilien Nzakamwita. AFP quoted him as saying the three, two Rwandans and a Canadian, were released unharmed at Nyarutova in the neighbouring prefecture of Ruhengeri. The nuns were abducted after rebels raided the town of Bungwe in Byumba prefecture on 7 July. More genocide suspects transferred to Arusha

Four genocide suspects, plus one indicted defendant, were transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha on Friday following their arrests in West Africa last month. According to an ICTR press release, the four suspects are Mathieu Ngirumpatse, a former director general of the foreign ministry and president of the former MRND ruling party; Edouard Karemera, former interior minister in the interim government of Rwanda and former MRND vice-president; Joseph Nzirorera, former national assembly president and MRND secretary-general; and Omar Serushago, a businessman and local leader of the Interahamwe militia in Gisenyi prefecture. The fifth person, Emmanuel Bagambiki, a former prefect of Cyangugu, has already been indicted by the Tribunal on genocide charges.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UN criticised over report reaction

Human Rights Watch strongly criticised the Security Council for what it said was a weak response to allegations of human rights abuse in DRC. Late on Monday, the Security Council condemned massacres, other atrocities and violations of humanitarian law committed in former Zaire and called on the authorities to investigate allegations of such abuses contained in the report of the UN human rights investigative team, published on 29 June.

"Simply calling on the Congolese and Rwandan governments to investigate and prosecute their own officials makes no sense," said Peter Takirambudde, the Africa Director of Human Rights Watch. "It's an insult to the victims. Both governments have already failed to cooperate with previous UN probes of these crimes." The DRC government says the report is based on false information and has rejected its conclusions.

MSF fight sleeping sickness

MSF started a programme in Yakamba, northern Equateur province to combat sleeping sickness. The NGO told IRIN they had chosen Yakamba because of an estimated prevalence rate of the disease as high as eight percent and the lack of any treatment facilities in that area. It added that trypanosomiasis, commonly known as sleeping sickness, had always been present in the area, but more cases had recently been noted. MSF plans to stay at least three years in Yakamba and aims to reduce the prevalence rate to 0.5 percent.

DRC Health Minister Jean-Baptiste Sondji, during a recent visit in Equateur province, said he was concerned by an increase in the number of people suffering from the disease. He added that the disease had almost disappeared in the 1960s, but had reappeared due to neglect of the health sector during the rule of the late ex-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Burundian refugees to be transferred in new sites

Preparations are under way to transfer Burundian refugees who sought asylum in eastern DRC to new sites in the Fizi area of south Kivu, WFP said in its weekly report. A UNHCR spokesperson told IRIN that the sites had been identified and were in the process of being prepared to receive the first arrivals in a few weeks. An estimated 11,000 Burundian refugees are scattered in eastern DRC, notably on the Ruzizi plain, north of Uvira, where they live among the local community. According to a tripartite agreement between the governments of Burundi and DRC and UNHCR, the Burundian refugees should be settled at least 15 km from the Burundian border.

More opposition supporters arrested

DRC authorities have arrested more than 20 supporters of opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, news organisations reported from Kinshasa. It is the third such series of arrests since Tshisekedi was allowed to return to the capital two weeks ago after five months of internal exile in his home region of Kasai.

Meanwhile, an aid worker with Medecins du monde (MDM), Fabrice Michalon, who had been detained by DRC authorities since early May, was released on Friday and arrived in France on Saturday, the NGO told IRIN.

Acting chief of staff nominated

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila has named by presidential decree a new army chief of staff, AFP reported. It said Celestin Kifua, previously police chief, had replaced James Kabare who was nominated in another decree as "special military adviser to the staff" of the Congolese armed forces (FAC). Kifua was an ex-gendarme under the previous regime, but later joined Kabila's movement and was given the job of reorganising the police

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: UNICEF details measles vaccination campaign

A total of some 117,744 children in Pointe-Noire, Congo's economical capital, have been vaccinated against measles in a UNICEF-supported campaign, the agency said in its latest situation report on the country. The government-conducted vaccination managed to reach 93 percent of the targeted population.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Security Council extends MINURCA mandate

The Security Council unanimously voted late on Wednesday to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) until 25 October. In the resolution, the 15-member body called upon the CAR government to adopt a plan for organising legislative elections. Among its functions, MINURCA is to provide advice and technical support for those elections, tentatively scheduled for August or September 1998. The Security Council also called on the government to adopt as soon as possible a plan for the effective restructuring of its armed forces.

BURUNDI: Two aid workers feared dead

One local aid worker was killed and another is missing, presumed dead, following an ambush on their vehicle on Saturday by suspected Hutu rebels, UN humanitarian sources told IRIN on Tuesday. The two, one man and one woman, both worked for the Austrian Relief Programme (ARP). They were attacked when they were returning to Bujumbura from Citiboke province on Route 5 at Gihungwe in the Gihanga region. The body of the woman, an agronomist, was found near the abandoned vehicle. She had been macheted to death. The body of the man, the driver of the vehicle, was not located, but it is believed he was also killed.

In a separate incident on Monday, a local staffer with Children's Aid Direct (CAD) was shot in the leg when a group of armed men erected a "phoney" roadblock at Mitakataka on Route 9. However, the staffer escaped with his life after the vehicle in which he was travelling turned round and fled the area. The sources said the proximity of the two attacks indicated the same gang may be responsible.

New feeding centres in Bubanza

The British NGO Children's Aid Direct (CAD) has opened two new supplementary feeding centres in Musigati and Rugazi in northern Bubanza province, OCHA-Burundi said in its latest report. The opening of these centres has spread some of the load previously carried by the Bubanza and Ruyange feeding centres. The report said the Musigati centre alone registered 1,700 beneficiaries during its first month of operation. Bubanza province contains the highest number of displaced people in Burundi - an estimated 159,000 people.

Nairobi, 17 July 1998 11:00 GMT


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Date: Fri, 17 Jul 1998 15:05:29 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 29-98 10-16 July 1998.7.17 Message-ID: <>

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

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