The following is the nineth in a series of updates
prepared by the UNDP Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia (UNDP/EUE) on the general
situation in the countries of the Horn of Africa. Updates cover events
in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia and Uganda.
Information in this update has been obtained from UN,
NGOs and media reports; reference is made to the sources as appropriate.
No claims are made by the EUE as to the accuracy of these reports.
Emergencies in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda
The current situation in most countries of the IGAD sub-region is fast evolving and will require close monitoring in the coming months.
Reports issued by the humanitarian organisations operating in Kenya indicate that the failure of successive rains has led to drought conditions in the predominantly pastoral areas of northern and north-eastern Kenya. In addition to a drastic reduction in maize production, unsatisfactory long and short rains have also inhibited the regeneration of vegetation and resulted in severe water shortages, deteriorating livestock health and a sharp fall in livestock prices. Malnutrition is also on the increase and there are growing concerns over the health of the vulnerable groups concentrated mainly in Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Isiolo. Approximately half a million are in need of relief assistance in these areas and many pastoral communities have been forced to move beyond their traditional grazing areas in search of water and pasture.
The marginal agricultural districts within eastern Kenya have registered a drastic decline in maize production a result of the poor short rains, whereas in parts of the main maize producing areas of the Central and Eastern Provinces as much as 90% yield reduction has been registered. Exceptionally high market prices are prevalent in eastern and northern Kenya, lowering the purchasing power of local populations, many of whom have had to resort to alternative coping mechanisms of migration and reduction of nutritional intake.
Humanitarian missions to the region seem to indicate that the situation is unlikely to change in the short term, unless accelerated relief programmes are initiated and the necessary adjustment measures are undertaken by the Kenyan government in targeting the most vulnerable groups in the affected districts and facilitating supply and access. A U.N. inter-agency assessment mission to north and north-east Kenya in mid-January has recommended interventions in the food, water, health and livestock sectors. The team set forth its recommendations to the Government of Kenya, which on 28 January officially declared an emergency. ****
The situation in the neighbouring zones of Ethiopia and southern Somalia is somewhat similar if not as serious. While Borena and Liban zones in southern Ethiopia were considered drought-prone even in mid-1996, the situation in neighbouring northern Kenya and south-western Somalia deteriorated more rapidly, giving rise to movements of over 10,000 pastoralists and their livestock into Ethiopia in search of water and pasture in the latter half of the year. These movements, coupled with the failure of the short deyr rains in the last quarter of 1996, in-migrations and over-grazing of available pasture even in relatively better areas have resulted in acute shortages of water and pasture in both the Ethiopian Somali Region and Borena zone. At the present time, the situation is being closely monitored by humanitarian organisations and the Ethiopian government's commission for disaster prevention and preparedness. Efforts are underway to overcome water shortages in affected areas, especially as local authorities are currently reporting over 72,000 Kenyan and 50,000 Somalis have migrated into the southern parts of Borena zone.
With the deterioration of water supplies and pasture in Borena zone and the Ethiopian Somali Region, market prices and food supply in the most affected areas of the two regions are rapidly changing. In most markets grain prices have increased, while livestock prices have shown a significant decline. ****
In Somalia, a recent report by the WFP Food Security Assessment Unit indicates that failure of the short deyr rains (October-December), and an early start of the current dry season (jilaal), has led to the depletion of household food stocks, decreased purchasing power and a general increase in vulnerability of the food insecure pastoral and agro-pastoral populations. This has resulted in the adoption of traditional coping mechanisms and the movement of a large number of pastoral groups to other parts of the country in search of pasture and water. The southern pastoral areas are the focus of the greatest concern, and measures are being undertaken by humanitarian organisations operating in these areas to closely monitor the progress of the dry season, migrations and their impact on the pastoral economy. At the same time there is a need to develop contingency plans and lay the groundwork for an escalated relief programme should one become necessary. Although the rains in the North-west and North-east were also unsatisfactory, the potential problems in these areas were recognised early and the local administrations have taken appropriate action.
The Relief Association of Somalia (RAOS) has also appealed for relief assistance for drought-affected Somalis throughout the country but particularly in the Southern Zone where large numbers of animals have perished, and nomads have started migrations in search of food. The RAOS appeal has stressed that a large population from Bay and Gedo regions had already crossed the river towards the border with Kenya in late January. ****
Northern Uganda has also been experiencing an escalating drought emergency compounded by the civil war between Government forces and those of the Lord's Resistance Army. A briefing issued by the World Food Programme in Kampala indicates that attacks over the past eight months in northern Uganda have displaced of over 110,000 people in the two northern districts of Kitgum and Gulu. The movement of these internally displaced persons has led to concentrated populations near several main towns and a subsequent breakdown in water and sanitation systems, as well as increased rates of malnutrition and water-borne diseases.
Displacement of farming villages has seriously disrupted production and marketing of the minor crop in the war-torn north, which covers a quarter of the country's cultivable land area. Insecurity prevented farmers from harvesting or transporting their minor crops in late 1996, forcing cereal prices beyond the capacity of the average consumer, and especially the displaced populations. ****
Disease, floods and sporadic drought conditions in the past months have exacerbated the serious conditions of the war-affected people of Sudan. This situation is further compounded by continuing economic and political problems. A report by the joint UNICEF/FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Sudan has concluded that, in view of the economic irregularities which continue to create instability in the north, and the prevailing civil strife and insecurity in the south, food aid assistance will still be necessary in 1997 for an estimated 2.6 million internally displaced persons in the country. As the 1996-97 harvest in Sudan is anticipated to be 50 percent greater than the previous year's excellent crop, much of this food will have to be transferred from surplus-producing areas.
Movements of Sudanese fleeing southern Sudan recently abated but small numbers of people still take refuge across the borders. The prevalence of insecurity and civil strife over the past years has sent an estimated 399,000 Sudanese refugees to neighbouring countries, and an escalation of conflict in 1997 beyond the southern states and in border areas would most likely result in a simultaneous increase in movements, needy populations and limitations on access.
Humanitarian organisations are currently reviewing contingency plans and measures that may be required to ensure the timely provision of assistance to displaced populations. ****
The failure of recent short rains (November-December) and subsequent drought in the northern Moshi region of Tanzania has raised fears of reduced harvests of the 1997/98 arabica coffee crops. Although the current drought has not affected the 1996/97 harvest, which is almost completed, a reduction in the next coffee production in Tanzania could in the medium term affect foreign currency earnings in other coffee-producing countries of the region. (The East African, Nairobi, 3-9 February) ****
Given the exceptional 1996 main season harvest in Ethiopia (with over
400,000 tons in surplus), the U.N. World Food Programme and the European
Union are currently considering local purchases in support of relief programmes
in Somalia, Kenya and Uganda. WFP have over 3,000 tons in the pipeline
for export to drought-affected pastoralists in Kenya, and 600 tons for
Uganda. WFP have also indicated that these amounts may be increased should
the need arise. The European Union is planning local purchases of up to
30,000 tons in Ethiopia for export to affected areas of Somalia. The WFP
1997 local procurement programme in Ethiopia also anticipates large purchases
of grain for distribution to the vulnerable regions of the country itself.
(source: UN agencies in Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Khartoum
and Kampala: UNDP-EUE Addis Ababa & UN-DHA, WFP, FEWS, UNDP Somalia
- UNCU, Nairobi & UNHCU Khartoum & WFP Kampala)
A report issued by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour on 30 January is generally positive on the status of human rights in Ethiopia and has commended the steps taken by the Ethiopian Government to improve its human rights record. However, the report also indicates that serious problems remain, touching upon areas where human rights abuses continue and where the limited capacity of the judicial system has not ensured the constitutional rights of detainees and has not prevented arbitrary arrests and detentions. The rights of journalists, a much discussed topic over the past year, has also been taken up by the report. (The Reporter, Addis Ababa, 12 February) ****
A joint seminar was organised in Addis Ababa by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and UNHCR on Mobilising Resources and Public Awareness for Refugees in Africa. The one-day meeting, which was convened on 11 February and was attended by representatives of the OAU member states and the UN system, primarily focused on issues concerning the problems and challenges of mobilising resources for refugees in Africa and the strategies for generating and maintaining public interest in the plight of the seven million refugees on the continent. (UNHCR Press Release, Addis Ababa, February) ****
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently approved a loan of US $127 million to Ethiopia for the period 1996-1999. The first phase of the loan, which is to be provided as an "Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility," represents US $42 million and is expected to be released immediately. The Ethiopian Government and the European Union have also signed an agreement providing US $460 million in grants and loans for development assistance to Ethiopia. The EU contribution aims at supporting the country's move towards achieving sustained socio-economic development. (Entrepreneur, Addis Ababa, 19 February & The Ethiopian Herald, 28 January) ****
The second phase of the U.S. Government-sponsored military justice training programme organised for Ethiopian Ministry of National Defence officials was completed in the United States at the end of January. This programme is the continuation of the first phase which was undertaken in May 1996. (USIS Press Release, Addis Ababa, 01/97) ****
The killer of the Ethiopian General and Head of Operations in the Defence Ministry, Hailom Arya, who was shot dead a year ago, has been sentenced to death. Jemal Yassin Mohamed was sentenced by a tribunal which accepted the prosecution's accusation of "premeditated murder." No date has been given for Jemal's execution, which under Ethiopian law has to be first approved by the president. Hailom was a renowned tactician and had a key role in the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF). (Addis Ababa, Agence France Presse, 15 February) ****
Two Ethiopians were killed and several people (including five expatriates) were wounded in a bomb blast in the Ethiopian Muslim city of Harar on 10 February. No groups or political parties have claimed responsibility for the incident. (Tobia, Addis Ababa, 13 February) ****
Ethiopia has launched a five-year plan to develop it's infrastructure. In a report presented to the Ethiopian Parliament, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has indicated the plan would aim at development of roads, airports, power supply, water resources and telecommunications at a total cost of US$1 billion. Master plans are also underway for the development of river basins, which hold 80% of the country's water, for both irrigation and power generation. (The Monitor, Addis Ababa, 11 February) ****
The Ethiopian Premier, Meles Zenawi, has ruled out the possibility of
war with Sudan. In his report to the Ethiopian Parliament, Meles maintained
that Ethiopia would not go to war with Sudan "in spite of the massive military
propaganda from the other side." (The New Vision, Kampala,
The Kenyan government has signed an agreement with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to start operations of the Mercure satellite telecommunications system at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi.
A UNEP statement released in Nairobi announced the signing of the agreement by Kenyan Foreign Minister Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka and UNEP's executive director Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
Initial funding for the Mercure project was provided by Austria, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Britain following an agreement between UNEP and the European Space Agency, the organisation responsible for the design and development of the Mercure system. Implementation of the satellite project began in January 1995. The system, which is now fully operational, is expected significantly cut UNEP communications costs. (Agence France Presse, Nairobi, 31 January) ****
Student riots broke out in Nairobi on 24 February after a student leader was burnt to death in a mysterious blast in his dormitory room. Prior to his death, the student, a political activist, had informed the university that his life was in danger. The riots resulted in looting, stoning of cars and disruption of traffic when police closed off one of the main highways.
Following the 24 February riots in Nairobi, statements issued by both the United States Embassy and the British High Commission have urged the government to give high priority to investigating the circumstances surrounding Muruli's death, and provide a full and prompt disclosure of the results. Nairobi University was closed until further notice, and hundreds of riot police stood by as students packed up and left the campus. (UN-DHA IRIN, Nairobi, 24 February) ****
Denmark has cut its aid to Kenya because of corruption and the mis-management of resources. In a statement issued after discussions with both government and opposition representatives, the Danish Minister for Development Co-operation, told a group of journalists that Danish aid in 1997 is only half of what was provided to Kenya in the 1980s.
According to Nielsen, who had earlier met with opposition politicians,
the Danish Government is not convinced that democratic rule is prevailing
in the country as "the (current) distribution of authority reflects a dominance
of the ruling party." (The Monitor, Addis Ababa, 18 February)
Egypt has invited the leaders of rival Somali factions to Cairo for a meeting to map out further steps and aid to normalise the situation in this war-torn country.
In announcing the invitation, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amir Mussa said that a meeting between Somali clan chiefs Ali Mahdi Mohamed and Hussein Aidid would be a "positive step on the Somali scene." (Agence France Presse, Cairo, 30 January) ****
In a joint statement requesting humanitarian assistance to drought-affected Somalis, rival Somali faction leaders Hussein Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohamed endorsed a recent U.N. inter-agency appeal for US $100.5 million in support of programmes in war-torn Somalia. Almost half the funds appealed for by U.N. agencies has been earmarked for emergency, reintegration, rehabilitation and governance programmes in the country. (Agence France Presse, Nairobi, 18 February) ****
Conflicting reports are emerging regarding the recent hijacking of a vessel in Somali waters. Some sources indicate Somali gunmen seizing a Kenyan cargo vessel off the southern port of Kismayo and are demanding a ransom of US $15,000 for its release.
According to the Nairobi-based East African Standard, however, the ship has a crew of 20 and the ransom demanded by the militia holding the ship is as high as US $100 million. (Reuter, Nairobi, 6 February) ****
Mohamed Ibrahim Egal was re-elected as the President of the self-declared Republic of "Somaliland" on 23 February on a majority vote by the Congress being held in Hargeisa. (Somali Liaison, Addis Ababa, 26 February) ****
A communique circulated by the Sudanese opposition National Democratic Alliance on 23 January, and signed by Dr. John Garang, chairman of the NDA Joint Military Command, said they had captured large amounts of Sudanes government ammunition and military equipment during recent clashes.
A report by the Sudan News & Views (an independent newsletter issued in the United Kingdom) further states that advances of the opposition forces were met with little resistance from the government army, which were retreating in the face of the NDA advance. As the report states, the only instance of resistance occurred at the town of Keili, 100 km south of Damazin, where the government sent an army detachment to block the opposition advance towards the dam.
The report also indicates that more than a thousand members of the government army militia, the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) had surrendered and are now fighting along opposition forces. (Sudan News and Views, January-February) ****
SPLA rebel forces, on 29 January, were reported to be moving closer to the strategic Roseires power station, in the Blue Nile province 475 km south-east of Khartoum. A military spokesperson for Khartoum denied the rebels' claim that they were within 30 km of the power station. ****
Tensions between Sudan and its southern neighbour, Uganda, are increasing and the current situation seems set for further deterioration. Sudanese officials and media have accused Uganda of preparing for war with Sudan.
During the past weeks Government newspapers have been reporting a military build-up by Uganda along Sudan's southern borders, claiming that at least 3,000 troops, backed by heavy armoured vehicles, are massed in the Agoro area inside Uganda, waiting to attack the towns of Kaya and Kajokaji in southern Sudan.
Sudan has asked both Iran and Kenya to mediate with Uganda in an attempt to prevent opening another front in the south. In this regard, a senior Iranian foreign ministry official visited Khartoum in mid-February to hold meetings with Sudanese officials before continuing on to Kampala. The tensions, however, escalated with Uganda accusing Sudan of bombing areas in northern Uganda on 14 February, in which one woman was killed and six were wounded.
President Museveni has told reporters that the solution for the problems
with Sudan will be in the "battlefield".
(Sudan News and Views, January-February, the Monitor, Addis Ababa, 14 February) ****
Sudan continues to accuse Ethiopia and Eritrea of supporting the rebel offensive in the south, although both countries deny any involvement. The Sudanese government has announced that its top priority was to drive out Ethiopian and Eritrean "aggressors," before envisaging mediation with rebel forces.
According to the official daily;Al-Sudan Al-Hadith, Information Minister Al Tayeb Ibrahim Mohamed Khair has stated that the "expulsion of the Ethiopian-Eritrean aggression was irrevocable."
The government has also announced that preparations have been made for a counter-offensive to retake Kurmuk, Qessan and other parts of south-eastern Sudan which have been occupied by anti-government forces since 12 January, accusing Ethiopian forces of having provided military support to southern rebels and of invading this area. On 30 January local officials even accused Ethiopian forces of having killed hundreds of civilians in rebel-held cities in eastern Sudan.
Khartoum's allegations of Ethiopian and Eritrean involvement in the war on behalf of the southern rebels has repeatedly been denied by it two neighbouring countries.
Sudanese sources have stated that mediation with Sudanese rebels will not take place until army forces have regained lost ground. The Sudanese Government accuses Garang of having joined forces with exiled member of the political opposition currently in the Ethiopian and Eritrean capitals with whom it is not considering entering into negotiations. (Agence France Presse, Khartoum, 30 January, 14 February) ****
According to a report carried by a government paper on 22 February, the Sudanese army and militia have killed more than 35 Ethiopian "mercenaries" and Sudanese rebels in Khor Al-Gana area of eastern Sudan. The report stated that Ethiopian forces and rebels of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) had fled, leaving behind their casualties as well as weapons and food supplies carrying Ethiopian markings. (UN-DHA IRIN, Nairobi, 25 February) ****
Commenting on a reported statement by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi that his country is not inclined to go to war with Sudan, Sudanese Minister, Ismail has reiterated that Khartoum "has always advocated dialogue with neighbouring countries for maintaining security and stability in the region."
Sudan has also announced it would pursue contacts with the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) about "the acts of aggression (against Sudan) by the Tigrayan (Ethiopian) minority,"
Sudanese minister, Ismail has also said that his government would ask the OAU Secretary General to either submit the issue to the OAU committee for resolving conflicts or to undertake shuttle diplomacy between the two sides to end the alleged aggression. ****
The Sudanese National Assembly (parliament), has decided to send delegations conveying messages from speaker Hassan Abdalla Al-Turabi to his counterparts in several African, Asian and European countries. One such team has already visited New Delhi to participate in an inter-parliamentary conference. The papers said the delegation took messages from Turabi to the speakers of the Indian houses of representatives and senate briefed them on the Ethiopian aggression on the eastern front. ****
The Sudanese Information Minister Al Tayeb Ibrahim Mohamed Khair has accused Ethiopian troops of holding up 15,000 people who fled their homes in Kurmuk and Qessan in a rebel push into Blue Nile state in January, a charge denied by both the Ethiopian Government and the Sudanese rebel forces. The government has maintained that January's attack on Kurmuk and Gassin was spearheaded by Ethiopian forces which, it says, withdrew when the NDA entered the towns.
Khair also accused international human rights organisations of failing to cope with "this humanitarian issue."
The NDA also vowed to take the war to the west and north. However, Khair told journalists that this was an empty threat since the rebels lacked the men and weapons to do so.
Taking advantage of the dry season, SPLA rebels began their advance on 12 January in the Blue Nile province in an offensive that has claimed two towns, Kurmuk and Qessan. The governor of the Blue Nile state told the government daily;Al-Engaz Al-Watani; that hundreds have been killed and some 45,000 people had fled the two towns, reported AFP. (Agence France Presse, Khartoum, 4 & 24 February) ****
Sudan's military leaders have urged neighbouring Egypt to oppose UN Security Council sanctions against Khartoum.
According to a recent U.N. report, the proposed Security Council ban on international flights by Sudanese aircraft could affect distribution of medical supplies, access to medical treatment abroad and immunisation campaigns in-country; however, it was not expected to hamper food aid programmes of relief organisations.
This report, outlining the possible humanitarian impacts of such an air embargo, was prepared at the request of the council in December 1996, about four months after it voted to impose a ban on flights by Sudanese aircraft but delayed setting a date for it to go into effect. Earlier imposed diplomatic sanctions and a travel ban on senior Sudanese government and army officials are still in force.
The United States has been promoting the flight ban and is expected to put pressure on the Security Council to impose these additional sanctions. (Reuter, United Nations, 23 February & AFP, Khartoum, 24 February) ****
An Ethiopian private paper, Genanaw, reported on 14 February that Sudan had launched a counter-offensive, driving opposition forces towards the Ethiopian border. (Seven Day Update, 24 February) ****
The Sudanese opposition alliance, the National Democratic Alliance (comprised of SPLA forces and six northern opposition parties) claims that Iran, Qatar and China have been providing Khartoum with artillery, ammunition and chemical weapons, a claim rejected by the Khartoum Government. Qatar has denied Sudanese opposition allegations that it was sending military aid to the government in Khartoum.
The United Arab Emirates, approached by the Khartoum Government for mediation in the dispute with Sudan's African neighbors, has abstained from involvement. According to a UAE Foreign Ministry source "the initiative proposed by the UAE consists of calling for a dialogue between the Sudanese government and the opposition, and not between Khartoum and another country." Turabi, however, has said that he would accept the UAE initiative if it aims to "resolve the outstanding problems between Sudan on the one hand, Ethiopia and Eritrea on the other." (IPS, Khartoum 24 February & Agence France Press, Doha and Abu Dhabi, 20 February) ****
Iran has denied SPLA accusations that it has sent artillery and chemical weapons and troops to Sudan. A spokesman at the Iranian Embassy in Nairobi said the allegations against his country are baseless, stressing the point that Iran's role in the conflict between Sudan, opposition groups and neighbours is only meant to be a mediating one. (The New Vision, Kampala, 28 January) ****
According to the Sudanese state radio, Minister of Information, Tayyib Muhammad Khair has accused Uganda of a troop build-up along the southern front of their common border, claiming that his government had made "all necessary arrangements to confront every act of aggression against the southern border."
In a related statement released on Sudanese television, Khair has also claimed that SPLA rebels, supported by Ugandan forces, are massing on the eastern front in preparation for the launching of an intensive attack on Kapoeta, Torit and Juba in southern Sudan. He stated that the SPLA were well equipped and are being supervised by British officers as well as American and Israeli experts with the direct participation of Ethiopian forces, saying that this move was within the framework of the common interests of "these aggressive countries" who intend to oust Sudan's current Muslim government. (IRIN, Nairobi, 23 January and 3 February) ****
Sudan's armed forces announced the capture of a rebel stronghold just across the border from a Ugandan town that Kampala had accused the Sudanese army of bombing earlier this month. According to Sudanese officials the town of Karguloo was used by the Sudan People's Liberation Army as a training camp.
Fighting continues on the eastern front, parts of which were inspected Monday by Sudanese Vice President Major General Zubeir Mohamed Salih. The government has also reported heavy fighting around the town of Pibor in the Upper Nile region, which is north-east of Equatoria. (IPS, Khartoum 24 February) ****
While the Islamist government of Sudan claims it is not the aggressor in its current dispute with neighbouring Eritrea and Ethiopia, opposition leader and former prime minister, Sadeq Al-Mahdi has repeatedly accused the Khartoum government of bringing Sudan to the brink of war. Al-Mahdi, who is currently based in Eritrea, is said to have paid an unofficial visit to Ethiopia in late February.
Meanwhile, Sudanese officials have announced in Khartoum their intention to put on trial (in absentia) a number of exiled military officials and politicians, including Al-Mahdi, who is head of the Unionist Party, Mohamed Osman Al-Mirghani and rebel leader, John Garang. (The Monitor, Addis Ababa, 6 February) ****
Following months of consultation in Washington on the subject of the deepening crisis in Sudan, a recent policy paper was issued by the network of NGOs and religious organisations (the Sudan Working Group) for donor governments, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), regional governments and NGOs.
The paper, which provides a number of recommendations specific to the
situation in Sudan, given the protracted nature of the internal war and
the regionalisation of the conflict, touches on several key issues: 1.
Sanctions; 2. Peace Negotiations; 3. Civil Structures; 4. Long Term Development
in Southern Sudan 5. Multilateral Banks; 6. Ensuring Humanitarian Access;
and 7. Human Rights Advocacy. (The main text of this paper is available
from UNDP-EUE, Addis Ababa.)
(The Sudan Working Group Policy Committee consists of Africa Faith and Justice Network, Centre of Concern, Church of the Brethren, Maryknoll, Missionaries of Africa, Presbyterian Church - U.S.A. and World Vision) ****
Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir, expected to arrive in South Africa in late February for discussions with South African President Nelson Mandela and others, has indefinitely delayed his trip, following an announcement of his visit by President Mandela. The South African president's spokesman Parks Mankahlana later announced that the two presidents would meet privately on an undisclosed date in the near future, but provided no further details. (Agence France Presse, Cape Town, 21 February) ****
According to the New York-based Human Rights Watch, a Sudanese military tribunal is conducting a secret trial of 21 alleged coup plotters in Khartoum. In a letter to Sudanese President Lieutenant-General Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, Human Rights Watch said the trial, widespread arrests by security agents and reported torture reflected how
the human rights situation in Sudan had worsened in the last few months. It said the accused, known as "the Port Sudan defendants", included 10 civilians, seven of whom were never in the military.
Human Rights Watch further reported that prior to last year most similar trials of alleged coup plotters took place in civilian courts except for the execution of 28 military officers in 1990 following a summary trial. It explained that the Islamist Government of Sudan was apparently relying on secret military tribunals because convictions and heavier sentences were more likely here than in civilian courts. (Reuter, Nairobi, 21 February) ****
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given Sudan until early March
to deal with arrears on its loan payments or risk expulsion from IMF membership.
The IMF is scheduled to review the status of Sudan's loan repayments on
3 March, at which time it may recommend its compulsory withdrawal to the
IMF board. A statement released by the IMF board in Washington stated that
in addition to making its loan repayments, Sudan needed to agree on and
implement a programme of economic and financial reform that warranted regular
monitoring by the Fund. (Reuter, Washington, 15 February
& IMF Press Release, 13 February)
A Ugandan cargo plane carrying military equipment and troops is reported
to have crashed inside Zaire's borders. A statement by Zairean Defence
Ministry said that the plane was "further proof of the involvement of the
regular Ugandan army in the war." Although the Ugandan army has denied
the crash, Zaire claims to be holding captive the survivors of the crashed
(New Vision, Kampala, 12 February) ****
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has proposed that a permanent observer team be deployed along the Zaire-Uganda border to check Zairean allegations that Ugandan troops are involved in the conflict. ****
A two day peace conference held in Kampala, 15-16 February on "the Challenge of Peace in Northern Uganda: A Search for Solutions" was jointly organised by the Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development (ACORD) and the Ugandan Women's Network (UWONET). Participants included representatives from local communities, government, UN agencies, NGOs and experts in conflict resolution.
This conference was preceded by a one-day seminar on "Strategies of Conflict Resolution," jointly organised in Kampala on 31 January by the Centre for Conflict Resolution, Foundations for Human Rights Initiative and the Legal Aid Project of the Uganda Law School. This meeting was primarily convened to bring together parliamentarians, intellectuals and researchers to discuss a number of cross-cutting regional issues, including the conflict in northern Uganda. (The New Vision, Kampala & UN-DHA IRIN, Nairobi) ****
Following an assessment mission to northern Uganda in late January, UNHCR, UNICEF and International Services Volunteers' Association (AVSI) co-ordinated a relief operation for internally displaced people (IDP) in Kitgum district. Hundreds of people have been killed in Kitgum since early November and some 41,500 others have been displaced over the last ten years by fighting between government forces and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
The mission delivered food and non-food relief items and cash assistance of around 6.5 million Ugandan shillings to the IDPs. Further assistance could be provided to the area based on the outcome of an assessment by local authorities as well as reports to be submitted by UNICEF's health and water/sanitation experts. (UN-DHA IRIN, Nairobi, 22 January) ****
Over 100 rebels of the Lords Resistance Army entered Kitgum area of northern Uganda on 5 February, joining forces already in the region. Clashes continue between government forces and the LRA, with government forces claiming to have gained ground in defeating the rebels. Civilian forces have also been mobilised to halt the LRA insurgence. In Lukung, rebels have reportedly resorted to sending written threats to the local population demanding food supplies. Threats and subsequent killings by the LRA have already resulted in an exodus of civilians fleeing the area and concentrating around Kitgum town. (The New Vision, Kampala, 11 February) ****
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has returned to the war front to continue the military campaign against rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army in the northern Gulu area. A report in the Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper said army commander Major General Mugisha Muntu was also in the area where new military strategies were being worked out. The visits to the north come amid conflicting reports of civilian massacres allegedly committed by LRA rebels early this month. Official sources place the number victims at 40 people but independent assessments say as many as 300 people have been killed.
Following Museveni's departure to north came claims in the state-owned New Vision newspaper that rebels were planning a major offensive against government troops. The article alleged that Sudanese fighter planes were dropping food supplies to rebel positions in the Gulu and Kitgum areas. These accusations have, however, been denied by Sudan. (UN-DHA IRIN, Nairobi, 23 January & New Vision 22,Kampala January) ****
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has admitted that his country was on the brink of war with neighbouring Sudan. Sudan has routinely accused Uganda of aiding Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels, declaring earlier this week that Uganda was a "third party" to a "plot" by Eritrea and Ethiopia to destabilise the country. Uganda, as well as Ethiopia and Eritrea, continues to deny involvement in the civil war. Kampala in turn has accused Khartoum of supporting the Ugandan rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), most recently with air drops of food on 21 January.
According to AFP, Museveni has not excluded the possibility of a last-minute peace conference, but efforts to resolve the growing crisis through the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional grouping, have been unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, in a bid to persuade Ugandan rebels inside Sudan to surrender, the Ugandan army has delivered thousands of letters to rebel camps stating that a presidential amnesty still stands. An army officer told the Kampala-based New Vision newspaper that the armed forces would give protection to any member of the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) who gave himself up. (New Vision 26 January & UN-DHA IRIN, Nairobi, 31 January) ****
Ugandan and Egyptian officials met in Cairo before the end of February to discuss some of the problems the Ugandan Government has been facing in using the resource of the Nile waters. These waters have been the source of livelihood of millions from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean, a terrain that covers many of the countries in the IGAD sub-region. Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania also depend on the Nile for hydro-electric power.
The utilisation of the Nile's rivers was earlier discussed at the late 1996 Arusha meeting of the regional countries, during which a resource utilisation report was commissioned.
With increasing needs in Uganda, Sudan and Egypt, consideration is now being given to the construction of a second hydro-power dam at Jinja (Uganda), which would allow irrigation of the arid land in the northern Uganda. In December 1996 work was started on a 300 kilometre canal that would draw the Nile waters to Egypt's western desert for the creation of an agricultural delta. (The East African, Nairobi, 3-9 February) ****
The International Monetary Fund has proposed substantial debt relief for Uganda under the newly established Multi-lateral Debt Reduction Arrangement of the organisation. If approved, Uganda would be the first country to benefit from this arrangement, which according to IMF officials is primarily due to the record economic growth, financial stabilisation and structural growth of the country in the past few years. (The New Vision, Kampala, 6 February) ****
A National Indicative Programme Agreement was signed by the European Union and the Government of Uganda, granting over US $265 million over the next five years. The grant to Uganda, which is part of the broader Regional Indicative Programme covering Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, focuses on the areas of transport, trade and regional integration, food security and conservation of natural resources. (The New Vision & The Monitor, Kampala, 29 January) ****
The designations employed and the presentation of material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the UN concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Information in this update has been
obtained from UN, NGO and media reports; reference is made to sources as
appropriate. No claims are made by the UNDP-EUE as to the accuracy of these
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