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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 37-98 covering the period 4-11 Sep 1998
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Fresh fighting as peace talks fail
The Victoria Falls summit bringing together all sides in the DRC conflict ended in disarray this week with the rebel delegation stating they would not be bound by a ceasefire agreement. Although ministers from the seven African nations met on Thursday in Addis Ababa in a fresh attempt to revive the process, rebel leaders said they would not return to talks in "hostile" countries and threatened to step up the fighting.
AFP said the Addis talks, on which no details have been disclosed, involved DRC, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim.
The number two in the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, warned the movement could not be bypassed in a search for a settlement of the conflict in DRC. Bukavu rebel radio, monitored by the BBC, quoted him as saying that after the "ill-treatment" the movement received at this week's abortive Victoria Falls talks, RCD leaders would no longer go to countries hostile to the movement. Reuters said the rebels were kept out of the discussions between seven African leaders and that the talks' chairman, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, had negotiated with them separately.
News reports quoted RCD foreign affairs representative Bizima Karaha and deputy president Arthur Z'Ahidi Ngoma, as saying they would not abide by a ceasefire "until [President Laurent-Desire] Kabila negotiates with us directly".
Ngoma said: "We are going back home now to do one thing only, to intensify our campaign against Kabila," he said.
In fighting this week, government forces were reported by fleeing refugees to have retaken the town of Kalemie with Angolan air support. Although independent military sources told IRIN they had been unable to verify the participation of Angolan forceds, rebel soldiers claimed some 25 people had been killed during a bombing raid by an Angolan aircraft. In south Kivu, local sources reported that rebel soldiers and Rwandan troops had killed civilians and burnt homes in retaliation for attacks my Mayi-Mayi fighters and isolated pockets of stranded government soldiers around Bukavu. Other local sources reported a spate of robberies and rapes in the south Kivu capital.
Congolese refugees arriving in western Tanzania also reported killings near Uvira and Fizi, while the UNHCR reported that the influx of these refugees had continued during the week with about 180 arrivals daily.
Uganda concerned at Sudan
Meanwhile, Ugandan newspapers quoted President Yoweri Museveni as saying Uganda had now taken control of airports and landing strips in eastern DRC to stop the Sudanese government using the facilities to airlift supplies to forces loyal to DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila. The semi-official daily newspaper the 'New Vision' said he had told parliamentarians he had not received any assurances from Kabila that neither Ugandan rebels nor the Sudanese military would use the facilities for attacks against Kampala. The Belgian daily 'Le Soir' reported at least 2,000 Sudanese forces were now in that part of DRC.
Diplomatic and military sources told IRIN they had also received reports that Sudan has been flying military supplies from Juba to the Kabila forces in the northeast town of Isiro and in the area of Dungu. One source said military transport planes, apparently bound for DRC, had left Juba for five consecutive days. Although it was not possible to confirm the reports, regional analysts pointed out Kabila had enjoyed warm relations with Khartoum long before the current outbreak of fighting. "Sudan has emerged as a big winner from this latest outbreak of fighting," one analyst told IRIN. He stressed Uganda was unable to control its borders with Sudan and DRC and therefore was not in a position to aid Sudanese rebels.
Food situation worsening in Kinshasa
In the the capital Kinshasa, there was renewed concern at food shortages, according to UN sources and news reports. Some five million citizens face would shortages in basic foodstuffs in the coming days on account of the interruption in the shipment of supplies. Flour has become scarce and the price of bread has tripled, according to reports. To help alleviate the situation, WFP was planning to distribute 700 mt of rice in Kinshasa.
Efforts were also underway to send about 4,500 mt of food aid to Kinshasa from neighboring Congo-Brazzaville for distribution to more than 100,000 children, hospital patients and other vulnerable groups. An aid worker told IRIN: "We have the supplies ready, we just can't get them in Kinshasa." While attempts to deliver relief supplies by boat across the Congo River have had little success, negotiations are taking place with DRC authorities to enable the airlifting of relief supplies directly to Kinshasa airport, humanitarian agencies reported.
SABENA flights resume
While electricity was gradually restored to some areas of the city, the Belgian carrier, SABENA, said it felt the situation was now secure enough to resume regular flights to Kinshasa. The flights were suspended on 14 August.
SUDAN: Persistant food problems
Although the peak of the famine has passed, the people of southern Sudan will continue to experience a serious food crisis for at least the next 12 months, OLS officials reported. The upcoming harvest in December will be poor due to late and erratic rains, lack of seeds and the impact of the conflict, according to OLS officials. The earliest hopes for an end to the acute food crisis therefore lie in the October 1999 harvest, they added. At a Nairobi press conference, OLS Coordinator Carl Tinstman said that while the number of hunger-related deaths was still "unacceptably high," there had been a "dramatic improvement" in the humanitarian situation since the peak of the famine six weeks ago. OLS delivered 14,970 mt of food aid to southern Sudan in August, meeting its food-aid target for that month, according to WFP.
Over 200,000 families made homeless by floods
The Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported that 204,000 families had been made homeless by heavy rains and flooding in nine northeastern states, and three million feddans (one feddan = 4,200 sq metres) of cultivated land had been engulfed by water. Quoting the Sudanese Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, SUNA said the most urgent needs were for tents, basic medicines and food. According to an OCHA situation report on the floods, Sudan's Ministry of Irrigation has warned that the water levels will continue to rise, with the level of the Blue Nile 185 km southeast of Khartoum already 90 cm higher than in 1988, a year of record floods. Floods are also threatening people in southern Sudan's Jongleur State, where several villages have already been wiped out, according to AFP. It quoted the state governor as saying thousands of families had fled the area as a result of the floods, with some taking refugee in the Ethiopian Highlands.
Aid provided to conflict-affected near Kampala
In further humanitarian operations during the week, ICRC started distributing blankets and other relief items to hundreds of families displaced by fighting on the Erythema-Sudan border, AFP reported. Some 60,000 people have sought refugee in six displaced persons camps near Kampala since March as a result of fighting between government and opposition forces in the area.
RWANDA: Kambanda appeals against life sentence
Former prime minister Jean Kambanda this week filed an appeal against the life sentence handed down by the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda last week. According to the independent Hirondelle news agency, Kambanda's defense lawyer Michael Ingress described the sentence as "excessive" given that his client had pleaded guilty to charges of genocide. Deputy Prosecutor Bernard Muna said Kambanda's sentence may dissuade more defendants from pleading guilty. In Rwanda meanwhile, two genocide suspects were sentenced to death this week by a court in Nyamata, Kigali-Rural prefecture, Rwandan radio reported. Three others received life imprisonment.
Rebels storm prison
Rebel infiltrators stormed a prison in Kivumu commune, western Kibuye prefecture on Friday, freeing a number of inmates, Rwandan radio, monitored by the BBC, reported. Government troops reportedly killed 70 of the freed prisoners, while another 140 turned themselves in. A number of rebels were also reported killed. The jail housed about 380 prisoners, the radio said. An estimated 800 rebels, from hideouts in the nearby Mukura forest, were involved in the attack. The rebels also hacked to death 21 civilians in Ndaro village, according to an army spokesman.
BURUNDI: More flee fighting
Humanitarian sources today detailed to IRIN the recent influx of Burundian refugees to western Tanzania. According to UNHCR, 2,167 Burundian refugees have arrived in Kigoma region since the 8 August. They are said to be in a very poor condition as some of them have spent weeks in hiding before fleeing. OCHA reports that, as 1 September, Tanzania hosted some 272,000 Burundian refugees in Ngara and Kigoma regions.
KENYA: Kenya de-registers six Islamic NGOs
The Kenyan government has de-registered six international Islamic NGOs following the August bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, Kenyan radio and television reported on Wednesday. The de-registered organisations include Mercy Relief International Agency, whose premises were raided soon after the bombing by American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Kenyan Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials. Others are the Al-Haramid Foundation, Help Africa People, International Islamic Relief Organisation, Ibrahim bin Abdulla Asiz al-Ibrahim Foundation and Islabid Efraim al-Islam.
Nairobi, 11 September 1998
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Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 16:01:35 +0300 (GMT+0300)
From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D