IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 38 [19990924]

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 38 [19990924]

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 38 covering the period 18-24 September 1999

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Election went "very well" - UN

Presidential elections took place on Sunday without significant problem or incidents reported, UN Special Representative Oluyemi Adeniji told IRIN on Monday. "At least from what we saw in Bangui and what has been reported to us so far from other areas, there were no major accusations of vote tampering and one can say the election was free and fair," Adeniji said. Voter turnout in Bangui was estimated at 55-60 percent. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday expressed his satisfaction at the peaceful manner in which people participated in the election. The first-round election results are due by 3 October.

Congolese soldiers repatriated from Mobaye

Meanwhile, almost all the Congolese soldiers who fled into the Mobaye area from the DRC in July have been repatriated to Kinshasa by CAR and Congolese authorities, Adeniji said, adding that there were now "at most" 200 Congolese soldiers remaining in the area.

Refugees in "unacceptable" situation - MSF

Congolese refugees in a temporary camp at Bangui's main port are in an "unacceptable" situation and their health condition continues to deteriorate, MSF Spain said on Wednesday. In a press statement, MSF said some 2,500 refugees had been waiting for months to be repatriated to Kinshasa. Daily food assistance for the already vulnerable refugees was suspended on Monday. A UNHCR official in Bangui told IRIN on Thursday that the refugees had not yet received clearance from the Congolese authorities to allow their repatriation. The food situation at the site "will be addressed as a matter of urgency," he said.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Chiluba urges "appropriate" UN action

Zambian President Frederick Chiluba told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that UN and other personnel should have no security fears or concerns in the DRC. "I can assure those present that there will be security of personnel in the peacekeeping role, as well as those attending to humanitarian efforts," a UN statement quoted Chiluba as saying. Chiluba, the main mediator in the DRC conflict, appealed to the Council to send a peacekeeping force to the DRC with an "appropriate mandate and size." The Joint Military Commission (JMC) and Political Committee set up to oversee the truce had met and done their initial work, Chiluba said, adding that the next JMC meeting was scheduled for 10 October.

EU concerned at slow pace of peace process

The European Union (EU) on Wednesday expressed its deep concern at the delay in the implementation of the DRC peace process, as well as "continued military activities and hostile propaganda", and urged all parties to the conflict to fully abide by both the contents and timetable of the Lusaka agreement. "The essential requirements for the implementation of the agreement have not been fulfilled," a press release from the Finnish presidency of the EU stated.

RCD factions at odds over political mediators

The Goma faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) on Thursday rejected three proposed facilitators of the national debate on the political future of the country agreed under the terms of the Lusaka peace deal. "The RCD cannot accept them as mediators", spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters news agency, in reference to Father Matteo Zuppi of the Rome-based missionary community, Sant Egidio; former President of Benin, Derlin Zinsou; and former OAU Secretary-General, Edem Kodjo of Togo.

The Goma faction of the RCD, led by Emile Ilunga, wanted "a college of facilitators composed of African personalities whose moral integrity and independence are not questionable", Reuters quoted Mende as saying. Ernest Wamba dia Wamba's Kisangani faction of the RCD had on Wednesday stated its preference for Sant Egidio as "the sole neutral facilitator of the national dialogue." Zuppi and Zinsou met with President Laurent-Desire Kabila in Kinshasa on Wednesday, news agencies said.

Unarmed opposition rejects Kabila's debate plans

Meanwhile, the opposition Union pour la democratie et le progres social (UDPS) on Saturday said it would refuse to participate in the national debate if its agenda and venue were "dictated" by Kabila.

Rival governorships exacerbate RCD tensions

Wamba's faction has elected a new "governor" for North Kivu province, rivalling the office of governor Leonard Kanyamuhanga Gafundi who is supported by the RCD-Goma faction, news agencies said on Thursday.

An estimated 836,000 displaced

The estimated number of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) in the DRC has reached 836,000, according to the latest monthly report from the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator. While there had been no recent massive internal displacement reported, the IDP estimate was adjusted as a result of greater accessibility to displaced persons in and around the frontline, the report said.

Second polio immunisation round held

UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy travelled to Lubumbashi, Katanga province, last Friday to help launch the second round of a national polio immunisation campaign. A UNICEF official told IRIN on Monday that Bellamy had administered polio vaccines and vitamin A drops to the first of about 10 million children expected to be immunised during the three-day campaign.

"Alarming" food situation in Kabinda

A recent assessment mission to the key town of Kabinda, Kasai Orientale, found an "alarming" food situation for displaced and resident populations, the report said. The mission, conducted by WFP and French Cooperation, identified some 20,000 displaced persons who had fled conflict areas in June. An airlift of food aid to Kabinda was being organised, it added.

Haemorrhagic fever presence confirmed

Laboratory tests on samples collected in August have confirmed the presence of the Marburg haemorrhagic fever virus in Durba, northeast DRC, a regional WHO official told IRIN on Tuesday. "We have received three positive laboratory tests" for Marburg, he said. However, there has been no laboratory confirmation of haemorrhagic fever among more recent suspected patients, and there were currently no "active" cases reported from the area, the official said.

WFP says emergency operation "seriously underfunded"

WFP's operation for war-affected people in the DRC remains seriously underfunded, the agency said in its latest weekly emergency report. It said only US $5.8 million in donor pledges had been confirmed to date, from a total of US $30 million needed to assist 350,000 people over a six-month period.

BURUNDI: More clashes near capital

Five civilians and five rebels were killed in clashes between government forces and rebels in the Mutanga district some 5 km west of Bujumbura on Sunday night and Monday morning, while five other people were burnt to death in rebel attacks on two vehicles some 10 km north of Bujumbura on Tuesday, news agencies said. Meanwhile, Net Press news agency on Monday said 13 civilians were killed by rebels last Friday in the Kayogoro area of Makamba in southeast Burundi.

Peace talks adjourned

Peace talks aimed at ending Burundi's civil war were adjourned on Saturday after a week-long session, Hashim Mbita, spokesman for the talks' facilitating Nyerere Foundation, told IRIN on Monday. The negotiations were expected to resume in the last week of October or first week of November during which the committees were expected to conclude their discussions, he said. Meanwhile, Tanzanian President Mkapa told the UN General Assembly on Monday that the main sticking points in the Arusha process were "security arrangements that would instill confidence and trust for all, as well as a democratic process involving all stakeholders."

RWANDA: Bishop denies participating in genocide planning

Bishop Augustin Misago on Thursday rejected any "complicity" with the 1994 genocide perpetrators, saying he became involved with them only on humanitarian grounds. "I did not attend any meetings in which genocide plans were discussed," Misago was quoted by the Rwanda News Agency (RNA) as saying at the resumption of his trial in Kigali.

Defence claim genocide suspect unlawfully held by ICTR

The defence lawyer for the former mayor of Bicumbi, Laurent Semanza, said at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha on Thursday that his client was being held "unlawfully," the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Citing an ICTR rule stating that preventive detention could be no longer than three months, the lawyer called on the court to declare his client's arrest and subsequent detention "illegal."

TANZANIA: Commonwealth aims to bolster Zanzibar reconciliation plan

The Commonwealth of Nations' Special Envoy to Zanzibar, Moses Anafu, was in Tanzania this week to set up a timeline for implementation of the reconciliation agreement reached in May to resolve a four-year-old political crisis in Zanzibar, a spokesman at the Commonwealth Secretariat confirmed to IRIN on Wednesday. The Pan African News Agency (PANA) reported at the weekend that, with Anafu's support, a 14-member Inter-Party Committee due to implement the accord would soon begin operations.

Mkapa asks for more help with hosting refugees

President Mkapa told the UN General Assembly on Monday that while Tanzania was hosting "over 800,000 refugees" and had never turned away those fleeing their lives, the time had come when it must appeal for more help to allow it give succour and refuge. "UNHCR has done much, but they can only do as much as the international community gives them the resources to do," Mkapa said.

Second Lugufu refugee camp "on hold"

A second refugee camp that had been proposed for Lugufu in the Kigoma region of western Tanzania to ease what was described as "serious overcrowding" at the existing Lugufu facility has been put "on hold" for the moment after a recent re-registration exercise identified fewer camp residents than had earlier been recorded, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told IRIN on Wednesday. Preliminary UNHCR figures from the late August registration and verification exercise revised downwards from 63,300 to 42,823 the refugee population at Lugufu.

Western villages need "urgent" help

Meanwhile, urgent action is needed to alleviate the "very poor" nutritional situation of children in villages located near western Tanzania's refugee camps, a UNICEF report said. Increasing numbers of malnourished children from local villages were being admitted to therapeutic feeding centres in the refugee camps, with community children now making up about 60 percent of the centres' beneficiaries.

UGANDA: Affected population tops 700,000

The number of refugees, displaced persons and abducted children in Uganda has reached 732,669, the latest OCHA-Uganda humanitarian update said. There were some 531,670 displaced persons in the country, while the number of refugees had increased to 196,195, the report said. Some 4,804 abducted children remained missing as of June.

Army says 93 Karamojong killed in recent raid

The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) said that 93 Karamojong warriors were killed in the recent clashes between the Matheniko and Bokora ethnic groups in eastern Uganda, not hundreds as alleged in media reports last week, Ugandan radio reported on Monday.

Karamoja insecurity affects relief efforts

Insecurity in Karamoja was hampering efforts to assess the impact of drought reported in Kotido and Moroto, the OCHA-Uganda update said. The report said the impact of the recent fighting upon the civilian population also remained unknown. International relief agencies were restricting their movements to urban areas, and WFP's school-feeding programme in the area was on hold due to the insecurity, the report added.

REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Relative calm boosts returnee numbers

An estimated 1,000-2,000 returnees a day had arrived in Brazzaville from the Pool Region and the DRC as the security situation calmed down over the past few weeks, the latest WFP weekly emergency report stated. Recent screenings by MSF put the malnutrition rate at 23.8 percent among the returnees, it added.

100,000 displaced remain "unaccounted for"

While most residents displaced by conflict last year have returned to their homes in the Bacongo and Makelekele areas of southern Brazzaville since mid-May, about 100,000 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) remain unaccounted for, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a regional situation report. "Humanitarian agencies operating in Brazzaville have expressed great concern over the fate of these 100,000 people who have been without any assistance since December 1998," it said.

SOMALIA: Aid activities suspended after murder of UNICEF doctor

UN agencies on Monday suspended operations in central and southern Somalia in protest at the armed ambush on the road between Jowhar and Afgoi on 15 September of a UNICEF doctor, Ayoub Sheikh Yerow, and five travelling companions in which all the passengers were injured and after which Dr Ayoub died from gunshot wounds. While preliminary investigations suggested the attack was the work of bandits, the communities "must understand that such incidents undermine the UN's capacity to provide assistance", a UN press release stated. Humanitarian organisations would meet after on or after the weekend to review their approach to operations in the light of insecurity facing their staff, UN sources told IRIN.

DJIBOUTI: Drought situation potentially catastrophic

A multi-agency assessment mission to three of five drought-affected districts in Djibouti has concluded that the current situation affecting the country at large has "the potential to turn into a catastrophe", an OCHA situation report stated on Tuesday. The mission estimated that 80,000 people were in need of humanitarian relief, of which 30,000 required immediate assistance.

ETHIOPIA: Food needs for war displaced "remain critical"

WFP has reported receiving an additional donor pledge of 10,000 mt of maize towards its Ethiopian emergency operation to assist populations displaced by the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea. WFP said that with a shortfall of over 16,000 mt, current supplies would cover requirements only until the end of September and that the need to secure additional resources remained critical.

SUDAN: Suspected oil pipeline bombers rounded up

The government on Thursday said it had rounded up a number of people in connection with a bombing on Sunday night near Atbara of the newly-installed oil pipeline linking Port Sudan with oil fields in the south. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) - comprising northern opposition groups and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) - said a special force of its Joint Military Command had blown up a 2-km section of the pipeline, causing extensive damage, as part of its plan to stop the "plunder of our oil on which the [National Islamic Front] and their supporters have put their hopes to finance the war."

UN mission to Nuba mountains "progressing well"

A UN mission that left Khartoum on 15 September for a month-long assessment of humanitarian needs in the Nuba mountains is "progressing well," an OCHA official in Khartoum told IRIN on Thursday. "The mission is on and there are no problems", she said. The team, comprising experts from WFP, FAO, WHO, UNDP and OCHA as well as CARE and SCF-UK, is expected to "quantify" specific humanitarian needs and examine logistical aspects for the delivery of aid in the area.

Nairobi, 24 September 1999


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

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