IRIN Update 377 for 18 Mar 98.3.18

IRIN Update 377 for 18 Mar 98.3.18

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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IRIN Update No. 377 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 18 March 1998)

SUDAN: Humanitarian agencies warn of deteriorating food security

The local population in Bahr el Gazal is facing severe food shortages, humanitarian sources told IRIN during a visit to the region. Relief flights are limited to only four locations by the Sudanese government. Those living beyond the reach of relief assistance are being forced to live mainly on the wild foods they can forage. Displacement caused by recent fighting in Wau and Aweil has compounded the problems facing people who have suffered two consecutive bad harvests due to drought and insecurity.

Thousands of people from Gogrial and Twic counties are walking for up to four days to reach Pakor - one of the four authorised sites - to collect relief food. This concentration is adding to the pressure on already vulnerable local communities and the limited food supplies. In Pakor, WFP has distributed food to 43,460 beneficiaries but many are still waiting to be served. MSF has set up a therapeutic feeding programme after a survey showed that 17.9 percent of under-fives were suffering from severe malnutrition. The planting season is approaching but the local population has no seeds. According to WFP, unless seeds are made available, another year of food shortages is inevitable.

SPLA official says fall of government closer

A senior member of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has claimed the forces opposed to Khartoum "are in the last phase on the road" to overthrowing the government, AFP reported. Pagan Amun, a member of the national executive council of the SPLA, told the Egyptian daily 'Al-Hayat' that a Sudanese opposition conference in Asmara today (Wednesday), would focus on improving military cooperation. "We will also discuss what we will do after we enter Khartoum, such as (forming) the government, preparations for an interim period and the constitution," Amun said.

Northern rebels claim seizure of three districts

The armed wing of Sudan's northern opposition claimed in a statement yesterday (Tuesday) to have seized three districts in the east of the country, AFP said. The forces of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) said in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa that it had taken Gezirat, Al Fazra and Karima, a few dozen km from the Ethiopian border, in February and March. The statement also denounced what it described as the appalling conditions endured by inhabitants of government-held zones and accused Khartoum's troops of carrying out atrocities against civilians, as well as arresting people held to be opposition sympathisers.

RWANDA: Mass trial of genocide suspects

Fifty-one people accused of genocide and related crimes went on trial in the Rwandan town of Byumba today. It is the largest number of defendants to date to face trial for their alleged role in the 1994 slaughter. They are jointly accused of criminal association, looting and genocide. The defence team includes seven Rwandans and seven members of the international association Avocats Sans Frontieres. "It's very courageous of Rwandan lawyers to defend the genocide suspects, in the current context, because Rwandans find it hard to understand or accept the right to a defence," the ASF mission head in Rwanda, Marielle Hallez, told AFP.

ICTR wants joint trial of military defendants

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) yesterday postponed the trial of genocide and war crimes suspect Colonel Theoneste Bagosora to open the way for a joint trial of all military defendants, AFP reported Fondation Hirondelle as saying. The ICTR put off Bagosora's hearing until a decision is taken on a joint trial. Chief prosecutor Louise Arbour wants to bring representatives of the chain of command into court together to show the 1994 genocide had been organised, the news agency said. The prosecutor's office last week filed a joint charge sheet. A joint trial could involve Bagosora, Colonel Gratien Kabiligi, who was in charge of operations for the general staff, and Mayor Aloys Ntabakuze, who commanded a para-commando battalion. Former military intelligence chief Major Anatole Nsengyumva and Lieutenant Samuel Imanishimwe, former commander in the Cyangugu region, could also appear in the trial, Fondation Hirondelle said.

ZAMBIA: State of emergency lifted

Zambian President Frederick Chiluba yesterday lifted a state of emergency imposed after last October's attempted coup. He said trials of the 90 detainees, who include former president Kenneth Kaunda, would begin soon and the nation could "continue to move in a democratic manner" without the need for emergency powers, the BBC reported. Kaunda has been charged with failing to warn the government of the planned coup. He is currently under house arrest but faces life imprisonment if found guilty.

Government faces donor pressure

Chiluba said he was aware the emergency decree was seen by Western donors as undermining Zambia's democracy. Donors, who are to review aid programs at a meeting with Zambian officials in Paris next month, have been demanding an end to the emergency decree, the speedy trial of suspects and an inquiry into allegations that detainees have been tortured.

ANGOLA: UNITA expels senior official

UNITA has expelled the man who signed the Lusaka peace accord in its name with the Luanda government. The movement said in a statement on Monday that Eugenio "Manuvakola" Ngolo had broken party rules "flagrantly and deliberately". It gave a list of articles and clauses of the movement's statutes that it said had been flaunted by the former military commander and one-time UNITA secretary-general, Reuters reported. Ngolo has not been seen for well over a year and has been strongly rumoured to be under house arrest in the UNITA-held central highland city of Bailunda, where party leader Jonas Savimbi has his headquarters.

Annan calls for complete UNITA demobilisation

The UN Secretary-General yesterday urged UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi to agree to full demilitarisation of his forces to complete Angola's peace process by 1 April. In a report to be discussed today by the UN Security Council, Kofi Annan said the successful implementation the peace accords depended upon the total demilitarisation of the former rebel movement.

BURUNDI: UNHCR explains repatriation procedures

A UNHCR statement received by IRIN has corrected media reports that some 200 Burundi refugees returned home from Tanzania at the weekend unassisted by the UN and without provisions. According to UNHCR, registered candidates for repatriation are transferred by UNHCR trucks from different camps in Tanzania to Mtendeli before their departure to Burundi. They receive one week's full rations and health screening prior to their return. The returnees are trucked by UNHCR-Kibondo to the Gisuru border where they are received by UNHCR-Ruyigi. A list of vulnerable persons and/or those requiring medical assistance is also transmitted to UNHCR-Ruyigi.

On 14 March, 197 returnees from Mtendeli and Nduta camps in Kibondo were repatriated by UNHCR trucks via the Gisuru border. None of the returnees arrived on foot and without provisions as reported by Burundi state radio. In total, 713 persons have returned to Burundi via organised convoys since the beginning of the year. Saturday's convoy was the fourth of its kind from the Kibondo camps, UNHCR said.

Nairobi, 18 March 1998, 15:30 GMT


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Date: Wed, 18 Mar 1998 18:49:01 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 377 for 18 Mar 98.3.18 Message-ID: <>

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

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