IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 29

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 29

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 29 covering the period 17-23 July

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Annan proposes intervention plan

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 16 July "strongly recommended" that the UN Security Council immediately authorise the deployment of 90 military personnel to the DRC. In a report to the Council on UN "preliminary deployment," Annan said he was also prepared, as a second stage, to recommend a further deployment of up to 500 military observers. The proposed UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC) would be led by a Special Representative, to be appointed "in due course," the report said. Annan intends to submit to the Council detailed proposals for the subsequent deployment of a peacekeeping mission. The report follows the 10 July signing - by leaders of the six belligerent countries - of the Lusaka ceasefire agreement, which has not yet been signed by the Congolese rebel groups.

Ceasefire implementation bodies formed

Defence and foreign ministers from the combatant countries on Tuesday established two bodies to implement the Lusaka ceasefire agreement: a ministerial-level committee to act as the supreme advisory body until the UN deployed peacekeepers, and a Joint Military Commission (JMC) to monitor day-to-day adherence to the ceasefire on the ground, news agencies reported. Meanwhile, the OAU has reportedly appointed an Algerian army general to chair the JMC, Zambian radio said on Wednesday.

Security Council urges rebels to sign ceasefire

The UN Security Council on Tuesday welcomed the progress made, "in particular on the establishment of the mechanisms for the future implementation of the ceasefire", but reiterated its dismay at the rebels not having signed. In a statement, Council members again called on "the governments of Rwanda and Uganda and other governments who have influence, to make all the necessary efforts so that rebel movements sign". Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) on Saturday said it would follow closely the belligerent countries' respect of the accord, which would affect "all aspects" of its future relations with the countries concerned.

Three rebel groups meet in Tanzania

The leaders of the rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) and the two factions of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) were on Friday meeting in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, at the invitation of the Tanzanian government and with the mediation of former Tanzanian president, Julius Nyerere. "The government has convened the meeting to convince squabbling elements within the RCD to resolve their differences so that the rebel groups can sign the Lusaka accord", AFP quoted Tanzanian foreign ministry official Simeon Ileta as saying.

Rwanda, DRC accuse each other of violating ceasefire

Rwanda and the DRC have traded accusations of ceasefire violations. A statement issued by the Rwandan President's Office on Monday said that in addition to "continued air and ground shelling" by the DRC and its allies, Interahamwe militiamen were being trained in Zimbabwe and deployed in the DRC. "This constitutes a serious violation of the agreements which call for the disarmament of these genocide-prone forces," the statement said. Meanwhile, a statement by the general headquarters of the allied forces in Kinshasa on Saturday accused the rebels and their allies of attacking areas in Ikela and Dibelenge.

Rebel troops reportedly advancing on Zongo

Humanitarian sources said MLC rebel forces were advancing on the northwest town of Zongo, across the border from the CAR capital, Bangui, from the directions of Gemena and Libinge.

Annan calls for vaccination truce

Annan on Thursday urged all the combatants to cease hostilities throughout the country and respect "days of tranquillity" from 8 to 20 August, before and during the country's first polio vaccination round, in order to give some 10 million Congolese children under five protection from the crippling disease of polio. In a press release received by IRIN on Friday, Annan said both the government and the RCD had previously committed themselves to facilitating the vaccination campaign.

No funding for emergency food aid

WFP has so far received no donor funding for an emergency food aid project targeting 350,000 war-affected people in the DRC, a WFP regional spokesperson told IRIN on Wednesday. "There is a 100 percent funding shortfall", which is preventing WFP from implementing the project approved in mid-June, she said. "This is very serious because the general nutritional situation is thought to be precarious," the spokesperson added. The US $29-million project would provide six months of relief food to displaced and vulnerable people in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Goma, Bukavu, Uvira, Kisangani, Mbuji-Mayi and Mbandaka.

RWANDA: Government begins second phase of transitional rule

The Rwandan government on Tuesday began the second phase of transitional rule to cover a period of four years. The new transitional phase would allow the government to complete the work initiated in various sectors, Rwandan radio reported. It mentioned areas such as cementing the reconciliation process, ensuring security across the whole territory, working towards better social welfare, improving the economy and establishing true democracy.

Rwanda lifts visa requirement for Americans

Rwanda has announced it will lift visa requirements for US citizens, to reciprocate a similar move by the US government.

BURUNDI: Talks end in stalemate

The current round of Arusha peace talks ended in disarray on Saturday, with the facilitator, Julius Nyerere, lashing out at the Burundi government. According to the Hirondelle news agency, he accused the government of "rejecting" all his suggestions. In a statement sent to IRIN on Thursday, the Burundian government said Nyerere's allegations were without foundation. A constant stumbling block to the peace talks has been the perceived opposition of the Nyerere Foundation to include rebel faction leader Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye in the Arusha process. The facilitator announced that the next round of talks would take place in Arusha on 6 September.

Army says 10 rebels killed near Bujumbura

Burundian army troops killed 10 Hutu rebels during clashes in the hills surrounding Bujumbura on Wednesday, news agencies said on Thursday. There has been an upsurge in fighting in Bujumbura Rurale in the last week, although the government has imposed a virtual blackout on information from the area. Meanwhile, the Bujumbura suburb of Kinindo came under rebel attack over the weekend, news organisations reported. Three people were reported killed and three injured.

TANZANIA: Participation in DRC force envisaged

Tanzania is prepared to contribute troops to a peacekeeping force in the DRC, news agencies reported on Saturday. "Tanzania will fully cooperate with the OAU or the UN to provide peacekeeping forces in the former Zaire," Defence Minister Edgar Maokola-Majogo was quoted as saying in 'The Guardian' newspaper.

Refugee camp "overwhelmed"

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has said people fleeing fighting in the DRC "need more than a peace agreement". In a statement, it warned that the Lugufu refugee camp in Kigoma would soon be "overwhelmed". It was currently housing over 58,000 people, 18,000 more than it was designed for. Health in Lugufu had suffered and mortality rates had risen, particularly among the under-fives.

GREAT LAKES: Funding crisis facing UNHCR

UNHCR on Thursday warned it only had two weeks of finances left to assist more than 750,000 refugees in the Great Lakes region. In a statement received by IRIN, the agency said that in spite of having only US $3.4 million available, new camps were needed in Tanzania, Gabon and the CAR in light of more than 50,000 refugees fleeing fighting in the DRC and the Republic of Congo in the last three weeks alone. "Contributions are not even meeting all the needs of long time refugees, much less the newest arrivals," High Commissioner Sadako Ogata warned.

UGANDA: Slain ex-army chief "planning attack"

The slain ex-Obote army chief, Smith Opon Acak, who was killed by Ugandan troops on Sunday, was reportedly "planning an attack" against the government of President Yoweri Museveni, Ugandan security officials said. AFP reported on Tuesday that the Ugandan troops had killed three insurgents, including Acak, after a raid on a rebel camp in the northern Lira district on Sunday. The rebels are said to be members of a new armed opposition group, the Citizens Army for Multiparty, led by Acak.

Rebels kill 8 in Bundibugyo

Meanwhile, eight people were killed on Saturday in an attack by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) on the Bumadu displaced persons' camp in the western district of Bundibugyo, the 'New Vision' newspaper reported on Monday. It said some 1,000 Ugandan soldiers had since arrived in Bundigugyo to reinforce the region against further ADF attacks.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Government claims recapture of Mindouli

The Congolese army, backed by Angolan troops, on Monday recaptured from Ninja rebels the town of Mindouli, a rail stop on the line from Brazzaville to the oil port city of Pointe-Noire, according to media reports. Army spokesman Colonel Jean-Robert Obargui was quoted as saying on Tuesday that the army, in trying to reopen the railway line which has been shut by rebel actions, would now turn its attention to the Bouenza region.

Thousands fleeing to Gabon

Thousands of Congolese refugees have been arriving in neighbouring Gabon, UNHCR said. In a statement received by IRIN, it said the number had climbed from 1,500 two weeks ago to an estimated 20,000. Fighting in the Republic of Congo has intensified, and more arrivals are feared after the town of Pointe-Noire was reportedly shelled on Saturday. According to UNHCR, the majority of refugees are women and children.


The volume of Congolese refugees arriving in Bangui slowed down to tens on Wednesday after numbering in the thousands on Monday and Tuesday, due to fears of the Congolese rebel MLC taking the city of Zongo, just across the river, in a continuing offensive, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Wednesday. The MLC's advances had brought an influx of 4,000 Congolese refugees into Bangui since the weekend, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Oluyemi Adeniji, told reporters on Tuesday. The total number of new Congolese arrivals in the CAR was estimated on Wednesday to be between 14,000 and 15,000. The influx had led President Ange-Felix Patasse to ask UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for urgent humanitarian assistance.

Upsurge in Bangui tension

Citing a "sudden upsurge in tension" in Bangui, Annan has recommended that the strength of the UN Mission in the CAR (MINURCA) be increased by 148 troops. In a report to the UN Security Council, received by IRIN on Monday, Annan said a series of recent violent incidents involving the Chadian community in the city had created a "climate of widespread fear and insecurity among civilians." The entry into the country of thousands of Congolese soldiers fleeing the rebel capture of Gbadolite in the DRC earlier this month had also fueled tensions. The upsurge was "a serious cause of concern as the country approaches the presidential elections," now scheduled for 29 August, the report said.

Security Council concerned at "minimal progress" on security issues

The UN Security Council on Tuesday "expressed dismay at the negative impact of continued fighting" and at the minimal progress reported by the Secretary General's Special Representative on security issues underpinning the consolidation of democracy in the country.

SUDAN: SPLA extends humanitarian ceasefire at new peace talks

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) on Monday announced it would extend a humanitarian ceasefire for another three months in the southwestern Bahr al-Ghazal region, news agencies said. AFP quoted SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje as saying the ceasefire - extending one that expired last week - would also cover certain areas in western and central Upper Nile state. The announcement was made on the first day of week-long peace talks brokered by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Nairobi. Meanwhile, donors warned that it would be difficult to continue humanitarian assistance operations in southern Sudan if this round of talks did not achieve progress.

US to appoint special envoy

US President Bill Clinton will "soon" appoint a special envoy to Sudan, a statement from the US Information Agency (USIA) said last week. The envoy's job would be to "focus on reducing human rights abuses, improving humanitarian responses and revitalising the regional peace effort led by Kenya," it said. Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said his government would "study" the US decision, news agencies reported.

Khartoum planning to relocate displaced people

Khartoum state authorities have announced plans to relocate some 230,000 displaced people in the vicinity of the capital, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Wednesday. The announcement was made last week to aid organisations by the Humanitarian Aid Department (HAD) in Khartoum, in keeping with the government's decision to continue with the replanning of Greater Khartoum. Observers said the plan provides for moving people from the main camps of Jebl Aulia, Mayo Farms, Wad el Bashir and El Salaam to areas further east.

Fighting prevents UNICEF measles vaccination

UNICEF said heavy fighting in the western Upper Nile region was preventing a measles vaccination campaign from reaching tens of thousands of children. In a press release, received by IRIN on Wednesday, UNICEF said nearly 50,000 children under-five were unreachable. It said that along with Operation Lifeline Sudan, it could reach about 150,000 children in Upper Nile and Jonglei regions if flight bans, conflict and the onset of the rainy season did not hinder access to remote areas.

Nutritional improvement in Bahr al-Ghazal

Results of a nutrition survey conducted in several counties of Bahr al-Ghazal in April/May indicate an average of 22 percent global malnutrition, according to OLS. "This figure indicates a significant improvement in contrast to the situation last year, but pockets of serious malnutrition remain," OLS said in its latest weekly situation report received by IRIN.

KENYA: Lack of drugs hampering fight against malaria

A malaria epidemic in Kenya, which has claimed over 1,000 lives, has been further complicated by a short supply of quinine, an essential drug in combating the disease. According to the 'EastAfrican' weekly, Kenya's health ministry announced that the Central Supplies Unit in Nairobi had exhausted all its quinine stocks, and other anti-malaria drugs were fast running out. The newspaper said the health ministry had issued large stocks of the drugs to 15 epidemic-prone districts by the end of April, but these had now been used up due to the "unusually severe outbreak this year".

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: International community welcomes "progress"

African leaders and members of the international community have welcomed what they consider progress in diplomatic moves to end the Ethiopian-Eritrean war. The antagonists however remain at loggerheads over the interpretation and significance of a seven-point modalities agreement, unanimously accepted by the 35th assembly of OAU heads of state and government in Algiers last week. The US government hailed "the initial positive responses" by Eritrea and Ethiopia and said it "hopes this proves to be an important step towards a resolution of this devastating conflict". The UN Security Council on Wednesday also welcomed the two countries' initial response and urged the two governments to formally sign the modalities.

ERITREA: Fresh wave of deportees arrives from Ethiopia

Thousands of Eritrean deportees from Ethiopia have arrived in Assab and Massawa since the start of July, with many disorientated, shocked or in poor condition after difficult sea passages and complaining to aid workers of their harsh treatment, humanitarian sources have reported. Close to 3,000 people were said to have arrived in Eritrea on 5 and 6 July, mostly from Addis Ababa, with many having lost virtually all their possessions. Meanwhile, humanitarian sources have spoken of fears that thousands of Eritreans still face deportation in the coming weeks.

ETHIOPIA: Emergency report shows Amhara Region hard hit

The latest revised figure for drought-affected people requiring food assistance in Ethiopia is 5,378,671, including 384,858 displaced people, the latest report from the UN Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia, received by IRIN on Monday, has revealed. That figure, released by the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission, has risen from 4.6 million in June to accommodate an increase in beneficiaries due to the failure of the 'belg' harvest.

SOMALIA: Aideed claims Libya will mediate with Ethiopia

Somali faction leader Hussein Aideed has told reporters in Mogadishu that Libya will host direct talks between him and Ethiopian officials in a bid to avert all-out war in Somalia, AP news agency reported. Aideed, who claimed Ethiopian troops were only 180 km from the capital, said the face-to-face meeting would take place in Tripoli after Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi's return from the OAU summit. Aideed is also reported by Somali media to have made renewed appeals to Eritrea in recent days to supply him with arms and troops, and has threatened to force the Ethiopians out. News agencies have cited reports of approximately 5,000 heavily armed Ethiopian soldiers crossing into Somalia.

DJIBOUTI: Precarious conditions persist amid slow reconstruction

Djibouti's reconstruction has been slow and more needs to be done to improve the country's precarious social situation, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report to the UN Economic and Social Council. The report, received by IRIN on Wednesday, said the population's purchasing power has been declining, external assistance to the country has become scarce, a large refugee population has placed enormous strain on meagre resources, and declining economic indicators have been exacerbated by the unstable socio-political situation in neighbouring Ethiopia and Somalia. "Social infrastructures, such as hospitals, dispensaries, schools and water points, have to be reconstructed so that the displaced population can be resettled," it added.

18,000 soldiers to be demobilised

Meanwhile, about two thirds of the 18,000 soldiers to be demobilised have received financial incentives to leave the army, as part of a programme initiated with French and European Union assistance, and another 750 soldiers have been successfully demobilised since June 1998, the report said. However, those being demobilised were finding it difficult to get employment because of their low qualifications, unadapted skills and the state of the economy, it said.

Nairobi, 23 July 1999, 15:30 gmt


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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

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

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