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IRIN Update No. 393 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 9 April 1998)
TANZANIA: UN, Tanzania deny reports of Interahamwe training camp
UNHCR Tanzania has strongly denied allegations by the Agence burundaise de presse that the Mbuba reception centre in northwest Ngara district is being used as a training camp for Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR soldiers. The acting UNHCR representative for Tanzania, Lennart Kotsalainen, told IRIN today (Thursday) Mbuba is a reception centre for Burundian and Rwandan asylum-seekers, controlled by the Tanzanian government with assistance from UNHCR. A UNHCR spokeswoman told IRIN that despite "porous borders" the refugee agency "confirms the civilian character of the camps in Tanzania". Meanwhile a Tanzanian government official told IRIN today there was "absolutely no truth" in the allegations.
The Mbuba centre, which has been registering Rwandan asylum-seekers since January, currently houses some 800 Rwandans. Many of those who register at Mbuba have been hiding out in Tanzanian villages, Kotsalainen said. He added that 1,816 Rwandans have been transferred from Mbuba to Mkugwa camp in Kibondo where they will be screened for refugee status later this month by the Tanzanian National Eligibility Committee. Kotsalainen also noted that a "significant number" of Rwandans had arrived directly from Kibungo in southeast Rwanda.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata announced in February a programme, including specialised training, to boost the Tanzanian security forces' capacity to handle refugee camp security. The force is also responsible for removing non-civilians from the camps.
RWANDA: 26 killed by Interahamwe militia in Gitarama
A large number of Interahamwe militiamen killed 26 people in central Gitarama prefecture yesterday (Wednesday), the Rwanda News Agency reported. It said they were either shot or hacked to death in Bulinga commune in a pre-dawn attack. The attackers came from Kibilira in northwest Rwanda, considered a hotbed of Hutu insurgency, RNA said. In addition to the killings, houses were looted and torched and a number of local residents abducted. A number of prisoners, many of them genocide suspects, were freed from the local jail. The military is pursuing the insurgents, RNA reported.
French probe requests copies of secret defence pacts
French ex-defence minister Paul Quiles, who is heading the parliamentary probe into France's role during the 1994 genocide, has asked for copies of secret defence pacts, AFP reported, citing sources close to Quiles. Eight defence accords between France and African countries are secret because they contain articles concerning the maintenance of law and order. A Belgian expert, Filip Reyntjens, has already testified before the enquiry that France must know who was responsible for downing the plane of ex-president Juvenal Habyarimana four years ago which sparked the genocide. AFP also said Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, the son of former French president Francois Mitterrand, will appear before the investigation committee on 22 April. He is believed to have had close ties to the Habyarimana family. On Tuesday, the Pentagon denied supplying missiles to Uganda. Former French cooperation minister Bernard Debre had alleged Uganda supplied the missiles that brought down Habyarimana's plane.
BURUNDI: Government, CNDD reject human rights report
Both the Burundi authorities and the rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) have denied a report by Human Rights Watch that they are responsible for killing civilians. A statement issued by President Pierre Buyoya's office denounced the report as "false accusations that had no foundation". It said the report made no refence to the government's efforts to "protect civilians from attacks by armed gangs who are running wild". The statement accused the country's enemies of "not wanting to see Burundi emerge from the quagmire created by the years of crisis".
For its part, CNDD rejected the "untrue allegations" contained in the HRW report. Spokesman Jerome Ndiho told IRIN today CNDD's armed wing, Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD), does not massacre civilians as it would be killing its "electorate". In a statement to be issued tomorrow, CNDD alleges the government is arming Tutsi civilians and forming militias. In the statement, CNDD leader Leonard Nyangoma calls for an international commission of enquiry, approved by the two warring sides, to determine responsibility for the massacres. However, CNDD welcomed HRW's call for an international arms embargo on Burundi saying it is "better late than never".
CNDD leader to discuss "problems" with armed wing
Ndiho refused to comment on divisions and reorganisation within CNDD, saying this was an internal matter. According to a CNDD statement, dated 7 April, Nyangoma is to meet FDD military leaders soon to "find solutions to pressing problems". Speaking on the BBC's Kirundi service last month, a member of CNDD said the organisation's executive committee had been dissolved amid accusations of regionalism and tribalism. Analysts noted that Nyangoma is a Hutu from the southern region of Bururi, while his deputy, Christian Sendegeya, is a Tutsi from the north. There have been reports of increased friction between the two men.
Nyerere envoy visits Bujumbura
An envoy from Burundi mediator, former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere, has been in Bujumbura to assess the situation in the country, the Agence burundaise de presse reported. It said the envoy, Felix Mosha, arrived last Thursday on a four-day visit.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: UNHCR deplores explusions from South Kivu
UNHCR told IRIN today the DRC military at the weekend expelled about 500 refugees, many of them women and children, from the Uvira region. Two hundred Burundians were sent to the border and today are being moved to Gatumba transit centre by UNHCR. Another 140 Rwandans were forced back across their border. About 40 Congolese were mistakenly sent to Burundi and then returned to their country. UNHCR estimates additional refugees were refouled, dispersed within South Kivu or fled back into Burundi's Cibitoke province or Rwanda. UNHCR "deeply regrets" the operation, spokeswoman Paula Ghedini told IRIN. News agencies state that the DRC authorities cited secuity concerns and commandeered aid agency trucks in the operation.
An estimated 8,000 refugees are in South Kivu, most of whom are Burundians. "A constant revolving door" situation makes it difficult to keep track of refugees in the area, Ghedini said.
Amnesty urges withdrawal of UN mission
The human rights group, Amnesty International, has called on the UN Secretary-General to withdraw the UN investigation team from DRC. In a news release issued yesterday, AI noted that the mission had encountered continuous problems in trying to probe alleged human rights violations. It described the DRC's attitude towards the mission as "unacceptable", saying the whole episode had been "turned into a farce". UN spokesman Juan Carlos Brandt yesterday noted that a Canadian member of the UN team had been temporarily detained at Kinshasa airport and said there would probably be a decision regarding the future of the mission. AI also condemned the banning of the human rights organisation AZADHO accusing the DRC government of "taking steps to make independent human rights work in the DRC impossible".
Interior minister discusses security issues with Uganda
Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji, who returned from a visit to Uganda on Tuesday, said he had discussed security and refugee issues with his Ugandan counterpart. Speaking on DRC television yesterday, he stressed there was a "problem in the east caused by agitators from outside". "They are abusively referred to as Mayi-Mayi, but in reality they constitute structures supported by some western powers bent on destabilising our government..." Kakudji said DRC's neighbours were "beginning to realise the plot being hatched to destabilise us and they realise that this will eventually turn against them".
KENYA: Human rights groups warn of further violence
Three international human rights organisations have warned of a "downward spiral of violence and ethnic hatred" in Kenya. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Article 19 who have been jointly investigating violence in Kenya, told a press conference yesterday their united presence in Nairobi reflected the "seriousness of the situation". They expressed concern over "waning international attention" despite continuing human rights violations in Kenya. The focus of their investigations was the recent politically-motivated violence in Rift Valley province where over 100 people were killed. The three groups expressed fear "that supporters of the ruling party are instigating the political violence, but blaming it on spontaneous outbursts of ethnic hatred".
Cattle raiders kill 10
At least 10 people have died in raids this week by armed Pokot cattle rustlers in Kenya's northwestern Marakwet district, humanitarian sources in the region told IRIN today. In the latest attack today, two people were killed and thousands of cattle driven off towards the Ugandan border. Endemic insecurity has driven some Marakwet out of their villages and into the towns, one source said. "The situation is very tense right now," he added. He said that well-armed Pokot on both sides of the border had allied to raid rival pastoralist communities in northwestern Kenya. "Part of it is politically motivated, part of it is due to poverty and some traditional practices," he noted.
CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Sassou Nguesso orders army to crush rebels
Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has ordered his security forces to "chase down" militiamen who sparked a gun battle last week that claimed four lives. Speaking by telephone to AFP in Kinshasa, an informed source said that two army units were deployed on Monday and Tuesday in Bouenze district, scene of last week's clash, and that a third unit would leave Brazzaville for Bouenza, 150 km west of the capital, by the end of the week. The clash broke out in the town of Mouyondzi when police tried to disarm militiamen loyal to ex-president Pascal Lissouba.
SUDAN: ICRC says 24,000 displaced along Eritrean border
According to ICRC, some 24,000 people have been displaced since January by artillery attacks on their villages along the Eritrean border in the Kassala region of eastern Sudan. The region where the displaced have taken refuge is particularly arid, offering no possibilities for agricultural activity. It is rendered even more hostile by the presence of landmines, which are having a devastating effect on the displaced population, ICRC added. Khartoum has repeatedly accused the Eritrean army of shelling border villages.
Nairobi, 9 April 1998, 15:00 gmt
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Date: Thu, 9 Apr 1998 17:57:18 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 393 for 9 Apr 98.9.4 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.980409175509.7562Aemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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