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Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 39-98 covering the period 18-24 Sep 1998.9.25
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Thousands flee fighting in south Kivu
Up to 20,000 civilians, mainly ethnic Tutsi Banyamulenge, were on the move in South Kivu, fleeing attacks from loyalist troops, rebel Vice-Governor of South Kivu Benjamin Serukiza told IRIN Thursday. He said government troops based in the lakeside town of Moba were moving northwards to launch "major attacks" on villages in the Vyura area, 180 km south of Kalemie. A senior OCHA official, Martin Griffiths, said in New York that 3,000 to 4,000 civilians in Lubumbashi might also have to be moved as the government may be unable to "assure their safety."
Goma attacked, as rebels claim advances
Mayi-Mayi warriors and Rwandan Hutu Interahamwe militia attacked Goma on 23 September, for the second time in 10 days. News reports quoted rebel leaders as saying that the Mayi-Mayi/Interahamwe militia attacked the Ndosho military camp about 4 km from Goma but that about 50 attackers were killed during battles with rebel soldiers. Six civilians, including one child, were also killed, the rebels said. Meanwhile, rebels this week claimed to have captured the South Kivu town of Kamituga, located about 80 km southwest of Bukavu, and the town of Isiro in Province Orientale
Chadian involvement detailed
Details have emerged about an alleged involvement of Chad in the DRC conflict. Begoto Oulator, editor-in-chief of the weekly 'N'Djamena Hebdo', told IRIN West Africa this week that 24 DRC cargo planes had arrived at the airport in the Chadian capital of N'Djamena on 18 September. Last week, the bi-weekly Chadian newspaper 'L'Observateur' reported that about 1,000 Chadian soldiers had been sent to the DRC to support President Laurent-Desire Kabila.
A journalist with 'L'Observateur', Sie Kongo, told IRIN West Africa that the reported deployment of the Chadian troops was financed by Libya to protect its strong economic interests in the DRC. This policy was part of a new rapprochement between Chad and Libya, he added. Kabila also flew to Libya last weekend, defying a UN air embargo on the country. He held discussions with Libyan leader Moammar Kadhafi as part of moves to consolidate his regional support, reports said.
In a separate development, the Uganda parliament has backed the continued deployment of Ugandan troops in eastern DRC, newspapers reported on Thursday.
Central African summit opens
A central African summit, organised by Gabonese President Omar Bongo, to discuss "peace mechanisms" for resolving the DRC conflict opened in Libreville, capital of Gabon, on Thursday, news organisations reported. The meeting was attended by DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila and the presidents of Chad, the Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville and Equatorial Guinea. Cameroon, Angola and Namibia were also represented at the talks.
African diplomatic sources said Angola, one of the first countries to support Kabila, was annoyed by indications he was forging ever closer ties with Sudan. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has opted not to attend the meeting.
Earlier, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba and President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania travelled to Uganda and Rwanda as part of SADC efforts to resolve the DRC conflict. They met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday and with Rwandan President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice-President and Defence Minister Paul Kagame on Sunday.
UN Security Council discusses DRC crisis
The UN Security Council met in closed session on 17 September to discuss the DRC crisis. Following the informal consultations, Council President Hans Dhalgren of Sweden told journalists that the 15 members wanted "an immediate ceasefire, the withdrawal of all foreign forces and the initiation of a peace process and political dialogue" in the DRC. Diplomatic sources said the council also expressed concern regarding the continued flow of arms into the DRC and urged respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
Human rights violations reported in South Kivu
At least 2,000 people have been killed by rebel forces in the Bukavu and Uvira areas of South Kivu between 2 August and 15 September, according to a DRC human rights organisation. In a report received by IRIN this week, the Comite d'action pour le developpement (CADI) charged that rebel soldiers and their Rwandan and Ugandan allies have committed grave violations of human rights - including arbitrary arrests, torture, extortion and summary executions - since gaining control of the province in early August.
Tutsis still detained in Kinshasa
The ICRC has gained access to another 111 mainly ethnic Tutsis detained by authorities in Kinshasa in connection with the conflict. In a statement received by IRIN, the ICRC said it first visited the group, detained at the Kinshasa Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Centre, on 14 September. ICRC has been conducting regular visits to other mainly Tutsi detainees held at Kinshasa's Kokolo camp since 19 August.
Food distributed amid rising child malnutrition
WFP this week started distributing relief food to feeding centres catering to malnourished children in areas of Kinshasa affected by fighting between government forces and rebels last month. Stefano Porretti, WFP's officer-in-charge in Kinshasa, told IRIN that preliminary results of surveys indicate that the number of malnourished children in the city's feeding centres had increased by about 25-30 percent since the beginning of August.
Food situation precarious in Kisangani
Humanitarian sources in contact with Kisangani told IRIN that food is scarce and drug supplies are dwindling, as the rebel-held city's main supply lines remain cut. While there were no visible signs of increased malnutrition or outbreaks of diseases in the city, the humanitarian
situation was becoming increasingly fragile, according to the reports. People have been depending on the city's food and drug stocks, which are now almost depleted, and the price of available food supplies was beyond the purchasing power of most people.
UN envoy reports on DRC mission
Deputy UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed the press corps at the UN's New York headquarters on his recent mission to the DRC and neighbouring countries. In a press statement received by IRIN, Griffiths said he had raised with government and rebel representatives in the DRC their obligation to protect minorities and the need to avoid "inflammatory statements which may encourage ethnic violence." Griffiths said that the rebels had reported establishing a "commission of enquiry" to investigate alleged massacres of civilians in the rebel-held Kasika area of South Kivu last month.
Earlier, Griffith told IRIN he was attempting to establish principles under which UN agencies might be able to resume humanitarian operations in rebel-controlled areas of the DRC, security permitting. Other humanitarian issues raised during his mission included a delayed immunization campaign and the return of assets looted during the rebellion, Griffiths said.
BURUNDI: Refugees continue to arrive from DRC
The latest OCHA Humanitarian Situation report on Burundi, covering the period 14-20 September, indicates that 7,159 refugees have crossed from the DRC into Cibitoke since the start of the DRC rebellion in early August. This figure includes 2,516 Burundian refugees who returned to their home country. The OCHA report also said that the fuel shortage in Burundi, resulting from the DRC crisis, has forced UN agencies and NGOs to start curtailing some of their visits to the field.
Buyoya pleads for end to sanctions
In his address on Tuesday to the UN General Assembly, President Pierre Buyoya appealed for the lifting of regional sanctions imposed on his country on 31 July 1996 in response to a military takeover of the government. Buyoya said the sanctions were destroying the economic and social fabric of Burundian society. He said the National Assembly and the military-led government had begun a dialogue which had resulted in an agreement on political partnership.
RWANDA: Soldiers kill seven
Two armed soldiers killed seven people and injured four others in an attack on Sunday in Mininja in Mwira commune in Gitarama prefecture, Rwandan radio reported. It said the two soldiers followed the victims to a bar, opened fire and threw grenades inside, apparently in revenge for the killing of a relative.
Thirty-one plead guilty to genocide
Thirty-one people charged with genocide and crimes against humanity pleaded guilty in a Kigali court this week, the independent Hirondelle press agency said. Under Rwandan law, certain categories of genocide suspects can benefit from a reduced sentence if they plead guilty. The trial is set to resume on 14 October, Hirondelle said. The accused are being tried collectively as part of efforts to speed up the judgement of detained genocide suspects in the country, it added.
There are 126,078 people detained in Rwanda in connection with the 1994 genocide, of which 4,300 are women and 700 are minors, according to the latest available figures from the ICRC. There are also 735 children staying with a detained parent.
Meanwhile, a parliamentary delegation, probing France's role before and during the 1994 genocide, arrived in Kigali to begin what is considered to be the most sensitive part of its mission. They met senior members of the government, but not the president or vice-president.
Rights report says rebels well-organised
Hutu rebels have little hope in the near future of seizing power from the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan government but they still pose a long-term threat, according to a new report on human rights in Rwanda. The report, by the London-based African Rights group, says most of Rwanda remained relatively calm over the past year, but parts of the northwest were at times virtually under the control of rebels operating from neighbouring DRC. Critically, however, the report paints a picture of a vastly better-organised and disciplined Hutu rebel force than previously thought by many observers - a fact confirmed to IRIN by diplomatic sources who have visited the rebel headquarters near Masisi. The 263-page report warns that the conflict in the DRC, where Tutsi-led rebels rose up against the government on 2 August, could have major regional implications due to the interweaving of political and military events in the Kivu region and Rwanda.
Kagame meets Kenya's Moi
Kagame on Monday held talks in Nairobi with Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. State radio said the discussions focused on important bilateral and regional issues "especially those touching on the Democratic Republic of Congo", but gave no other details.
TANZANIA: Burundian arrivals include war-wounded
UNHCR figures indicate that a total of 2,446 Burundian refugees had arrived in Kigoma since the beginning of August up to 15 September, while 5,333 Congolese refugees had arrived during the same period. About 10 percent of the Burundian refugees arriving in Kigoma are sent to the regional hospital for medical assistance, either because of severe malnutrition or due to serious bullet and machete wounds, WFP's weekly emergency report said.
UGANDA: Army detains 15 in house-to-house sweep
The Ugandan army detained 15 people and retrieved guns and ammunition in a house-to-house search in Kampala over the weekend, news organisations reported. A private radio station, 'Radio Simba', said the weekend operation was aimed at robbers and possible terrorists after last month's attacks on three buses in which 30 people were killed.
SUDAN: Eritrean refugee camp shelled in bombardment of eastern Sudan
Two children were killed and 12 injured when the Wad Sherifai refugee camp 20 km from Kassala was shelled on Friday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said. Since January at least 55,000 people are thought to have moved from their villages in the area, along Sudan's eastern border with Eritrea, due to conflict between Sudanese government forces and rebels operating with at least political support from Eritrea.
Rebels claim Liria captured
The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) this week announced the capture of the garrison town of Liria, 72 km southeast of Juba in the eastern Equatoria region. Meanwhile, an official government newspaper quoted an army spokesman as saying Khartoum's forces had killed more than 70 Ugandan troops in recent fighting in southern Sudan. The 'Al-Anbaa' newspaper said Lieutenant-General Abdel Rahman al-Khatim reported the army was in full control in all areas where it was confronted by Ugandan forces.
Ceasefire talks slated for 5 October
Albert Navarro, Director of the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), said representatives of the Khartoum government and the SPLA would meet in Nairobi on 5 October to discuss extending a ceasefire they agreed earlier in the year to allow food deliveries to reach hungry people in Bahr al-Ghazal. The truce expires on 15 October.
German planes boost WFP fleet
WFP said the first of two German C-160 Transall planes to join its fleet had delivered supplies to some 70,000 displaced and hungry people in Wau. It said the second C-160 would start operations over the coming days.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Elections set for November
The authorities in CAR have announced a new timetable for general elections, BBC reported on Wednesday. A first round of voting is to take place on 22 November, with a second round on 13 December, BBC said. The election had been scheduled to be held this month but was postponed at the request of the Independent Joint Electoral Commission, AFP reported.
DRC crisis causes fuel shortage
The government announced that it would import fuel supplies by road from Cameroon to alleviate a fuel shortage caused by the effects of the DRC crisis. Fuel loadings destined for CAR have now been waiting in Kinshasa port for over two months.
GREAT LAKES: UN funding remains low
Only 24 percent of the UN's 1998 appeal for humanitarian assistance in the Great Lakes and Central Africa has been funded. Figures released by OCHA Geneva show that five smaller UN agencies had received no pledges at all while the rest received at best 50 percent funding. Of a requested US $573.8 million, only US $137.9 is available. Non-UN humanitarian funding for the region, as recorded by OCHA, amounts to an additional US $121.6 million so far this year.
Nairobi, 25 September 1998 12:30 GMT
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Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 15:44:56 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-Up 39-98 1998.9.25 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980925154145.4315Dfirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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