IRIN Update 389 for 3 Apr 98.4.3

IRIN Update 389 for 3 Apr 98.4.3

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. 389 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 3 April 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: International financial accords to be revised

President Laurent-Desire Kabila has announced that the former regime's agreements with international financial institutions will be revised, the Agence congolaise de presse reported yesterday (Thursday). Government spokesman Raphael Ghenda told a press briefing on Monday the new government was "not a continuation" of the old regime. "Today's government is resolutely in favour of progress and renewal," he said. Therefore, it was "imperative" for the DRC to "withdraw from the oppressive schemes" of the West, and to strengthen its principles with regard to international funding and cooperation. Ghenda also said the government had not yet reached a final decision on DRC's debt to the IMF and World Bank. However, the government expected an easing of the debt "because to this day it has received no international financial aid". He added that any foreign aid should go directly to the government and not via NGOs or other organisations.

Diamond exports total over US $45 million

According to figures released by the Centre national d'expertise (CNE), the DRC exported over US $45 million worth of diamonds for the months of January and February this year. In January, 1,119,000 carats of diamonds worth US $21,600,000 were exported, while the figure for February was 1,500,000 carats worth US $26,000,000. CNE also reported that 11 kg of gold were exported, at a value of US $78,000.

40 die in boat accident

Some 40 people drowned when their barge capsized on the River Kasai near Kwamouth, some 200 km northeast of Kinshasa, 'Le Potentiel' reported today

(Friday). The accident occurred on Monday when two barges, heaped with people and goods, collided. The newspaper blamed corrupt checkpoint officials for allowing the overcrowding of the barges.

IFRC confirms death of volunteer

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC) confirmed to IRIN today that one of its volunteers was killed by a boy soldier in Kinshasa last Sunday following a dispute over a soccer pitch. "We confirm that the person who was shot was employed by the International Federation in our Kinshasa delegation. We naturally deplore last Sunday's tragic incident," Information Officer Marie-Francoise Borel said. IRIN Update 385 carried an erroneous report which said the volunteer was working for ICRC. The 13-year-old Congolese boy soldier was condemned to death by a military tribunal.

RWANDA: ICTR rejects joint trial

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has rejected a request by the prosecution for a joint trial of genocide suspects. The judge rejected the request as some of those indicted are already facing hearings in other cases. News reports said the prosecutor's request was prompted by criticism of the ICTR's slow pace of progress.

UNHCR urges countries hosting Rwandans to screen them

UNHCR is urging five countries hosting Rwandans to institute procedures for determining refugee status. By screening Rwandans in collaboration with host governments, UNHCR hopes to identify refugees who are entitled to international protection and, crucially, those who should be barred from the same consideration. The number of people concerned by the effort in Angola, Benin, Togo, Kenya and Congo-Brazzaville is estimated at 22,180.

BURUNDI: Concern over food situation in prisons

The food situation in Burundi's prisons is giving cause for concern, according to the vice-president of the association in defence of prisoners' rights. Azania news agency reported Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa as saying the normal ration of cassava flour and beans had practically run out. Azania said that as a result of the situation, 83 inmates who had no case to answer had been freed. Many of them had been arrested in connection with the 1993 massacres following the assassination of President Melchior Ndadaye.

UGANDA: UNICEF condemns LRA "barbarism"

UNICEF has condemned the "barbaric behaviour" of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army which has abducted thousands of children over the years. Speaking in Geneva yesterday, UNICEF's deputy executive director Stephen Lewis said between 6,000 and 8,000 children had been kidnapped over the past five years, half of whom had managed to escape but who "bear scars and mutilations". Many others are feared dead.

SUDAN: Lifting of aid flight ban temporary, Khartoum says

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail yesterday stressed the lifting of the ban on aid flights to Bahr al-Ghazal was temporary and aimed at "creating a suitable atmosphere for the success of forthcoming peace negotiations" in Nairobi this month. AFP said he told a news conference the suspension would be temporary until rebels in the south agreed to a ceasefire. "The rebel movement has made it a habit of launching military

operations after benefiting from the delivered relief suplies," he said. He urged the international community to "convince" the rebels to accept a ceasefire.

ANGOLA: UNITA radio ceases broadcasts

UNITA said yesterday its radio, Voice of the Resistance of the Black Cockerel, had ceased broadcasting in compliance with the 1994 Lusaka peace accords. The shortwave radio had been based in the UNITA stronghold of Jamba. UNITA will now broadcast on FM in the capital Luanda. The new radio, to be known as Radio Despertar (Wake-up), will be non-partisan, UNITA said, according to AFP.

KENYA: Wajir suffers from malaria epidemic, malnutrition - MSF

MSF Belgium told IRIN yesterday that Wajir town, in Kenya's Northeastern province, suffers from high levels of malnutrition, and is emerging from a very severe malaria epidemic. Results of a survey conducted last month indicate malnutrition levels of 25.3 percent moderate and 3.7 percent severe. In addition, MSF estimates that around 1,800 people died of malaria in a six week period from the end of Ramadhan. The figures, based on interviews with households in Wajir town, would represent a crude mortality rate of nine per 10,000 per day. The US-based Centers for Disease Control regards a crude mortality rate of just two per 10,000 per day as "an emergency out of control". In response to the nutrition figures, MSF began supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes for children this week in Wajir. MSF plans nutritional surveys in and around Garissa town in the coming weeks, but the last survey, in October 1997, showed acceptable levels of nutrition.

Northeastern provice "fragile" after drought, floods and disease

As floodwaters recede in Kenya's Northeastern Province (NEP), hard hit by droughts, flood and disease in the past year, the region remains in a precarious position. An aid official based in the area, interviewed by IRIN, said that in some ways the area "is worse off than when we came in [in April 1997]". Drought operations launched early in 1997 gave way to flood relief programmes when the Tana river burst its banks in November last year. Now, several aid agencies are phasing out emergency programmes but calling for longer-term interventions. John Sparrow, a spokesman for the the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Kenya, told IRIN today that "people are very vulnerable's a very worrying picture". While epidemics of cholera and haemorrhagic fever have died down, MSF Belgium is launching a communicable disease surveillance programme to monitor any further outbreaks.

The flood-related impact on Garissa includes the death of at least half of small livestock herds (sheep and goats) and extensive damage to schools, roads, crops and water systems. To improve food security, WFP is delivering food by air and road to flood affected communities, and is supplying a 50 percent ration to 120,000 Somali refugees in camps around Dadaab by road whenever possible. The operation is "keeping people going", according to WFP officials in Garissa, but there is a long way to go before complete recovery. The soil is saturated, and as a new rainy season begins, roads could again become impassable, they told IRIN. As areas previously cut off open up, a local official in Garissa said he expected a further influx of people into the town, whose facilities are already under strain. UN agencies on 12 March appealed for about US $10.5 million for post-flood programmes in all affected regions of Kenya.

General strike partially observed

News reports said a general strike called by the pro-reform lobby, the National Convention Executive Council (NCEC), was partially observed in Nairobi today. Some shops and schools closed their doors and there were fewer cars on the streets. However most offices and banks were open. The strike was called as part of the NCEC's campaign to spearhead constitutional review by a broad-based national convention.

Nairobi, 3 April 1998, 13:30 gmt


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Date: Fri, 3 Apr 1998 16:22:37 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 389 for 3 Apr 98.4.3 Message-ID: <>

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

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