IRIN Update 480 for 13 Aug 1998.8.13

IRIN Update 480 for 13 Aug 1998.8.13

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

Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail:

IRIN Update No. 480 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 13 August 1998)


The northeast town of Bunia, on the Ugandan border, fell to the rebels yesterday (Wednesday). Sources in touch with Bunia told IRIN the town was taken with the help of two tanks. Sources in Uvira meanwhile described the town as calm, with markets and shops operating as normal. There has been no fighting there since Sunday, when a counter-attack by pro-government troops arriving from Kalemie by boat, was allegedly repelled. [For detailed information, see separate IRIN item today, headlined "Bunia in rebel hands, Uvira quiet"].

Museveni meets peace envoys

President Yoweri Museveni yesterday met the foreign ministers of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia visiting Uganda as part of a regional DRC peace mission. Museveni's spokeswoman Hope Kivengere told IRIN the details of the talks were confidential, so as not to prejudice the team's next round of discussions in Rwanda and DRC. She however said she hoped the talks would allay Kinshasa's "suspicions" of Uganda's involvement in the rebellion. The four ministers are part of a fact-finding committee set up at a summit of seven regional leaders last weekend in Zimbabwe. Kivengere said Uganda "prefers to have a regional approach to the whole problem." She however added: "If nationals are having a conflict then the nationals should sort it out."

British TV reports arms flowing into the region

A British TV programme this week claimed that arms shipments from Eastern Europe are flowing into the Great Lakes region. Channel 4 News interviewed Colonel Willy Mallants, a former adviser to President Laurent-Desire Kabila, who said Uganda and Tanzania are monitoring flights going to Bujumbura - believed to be a supply conduit for Congolese rebels. A commercial aircraft operator told the news programme: "We were warned that if any aircraft flew to Bujumbura with general cargo from Europe, there was a good chance it would get impounded and the crew arrested in Mwanza [Tanzania] or definitely in Uganda - Entebbe - due to the fact that some airlines are thought to be running prohibited cargo into the area."

Channel 4 News claimed that in March, a cargo flight of weapons left Bulgaria destined for Kabila's home province of Katanga. The Ilyushin, loaded with 44 mt of unspecified military equipment, landed in Dar es Salaam and then flew on to a private airstrip in eastern Zambia before crossing into the DRC, the TV programme alleged.

Mugabe says ready to undertake regional peace missions

At a rally celebrating Zimbabwe's armed forces day, President Robert Mugabe said Zimbabwe was prepared to undertake missions in the region to preserve peace and stability, AFP reported. Mugabe has taken a leading role in mediating a settlement to the DRC crisis. Defence Minister Moven Mahachi told the state news agency ZIANA yesterday that "Congo is a member of the SADC [Southern African Development Community] and it would be in the interest of the region to make sure there is peace in that country." However, in response to Mahachi's comments, Museveni's spokeswoman Hope Kivengere told IRIN that any intervention in the DRC "has to be thought through carefully."

Meanwhile, SADC defence chiefs met in Zambia yesterday to evaluate security in the region and conflicts in the DRC and Angola, media reports said. Zimbabwe and DRC delegations were absent from the meeting.

63 Banyamulenge flee to Zambia

UNHCR in Lusaka told IRIN today (Thursday) that 63 Congolese Banyamulenge have so far crossed the border into Zambia. They were disarmed by police and are being held in Kitwe on the Copperbelt. They are not requesting asylum but have asked to be repatriated to the DRC via Rwanda. Meanwhile, UNHCR reports that some 100 Angolans have also entered the country fleeing the current unrest in the eastern province of Moxico. They have been transferred to the Maheba and Mayukwayukwa refugee camps.

KENYA: World Bank loans US $40 million for El-Nino recovery

The World Bank today formally extended a US $40 million loan to Kenya to finance an El Nino emergency infrastructure rehabilitation project. The Bank also re-programmed a further US $37.5 million to complement the programme, KTN TV reported. The loan will cover rehabilitation projects in 23 districts and seven urban districts and will take 18 months to complete.

World Bank willing to help over bombing

Country Director Harold Wackman said the Bank was willing to help Nairobi's recovery in the aftermath of Friday's bomb blast. The government is preparing a damage assessment. Meanwhile, five people have been detained by the Kenyan authorities and FBI over the Nairobi explosion. CID Deputy Director Peter Mbuvi said they were being interrogated and "we're pushing them."

SUDAN: Government calls for freeing of its nationals over bombing

The Sudanese government has asked Tanzania to release six Sudanese nationals suspected of involvement in the 7 August bomb attack on the US embassy in Dar es Salaam, press reports said today. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said he asked his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete in a telephone call on Wednesday to provide full information on the detainees and "release them immediately if their involvement was not substantiated."

Food diversion among delivery problems for relief effort

The humanitarian effort to deliver emergency relief to people in need in southern Sudan is being hampered by thunderstorms, the failure to rapidly decentralise feeding centres, and the diversion of food on the ground, aid workers say. Vulnerable groups, typically female-headed households, run the risk of being excluded from food supplies. "It's a case of the strong preying on the weak," a humanitarian source told IRIN. Young men with guns have the capability to extort food. "It's more a lawlessness problem," the source said. He added that in a "resource-scarce environment", local chiefs are also tempted to cut out people from the distribution chain who don't have allegiance to them. "The chiefs are taking care of their own, and they may not be the most needy," he said. He added that taxation of food by both government and rebel forces was common. According to media reports, between 40-60 percent of food destined for the hungry is being grabbed by both sides. However, food diversion "is not the most serious problem" but one of a set of factors complicating food delivery, one humanitarian source noted.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Shortages bite following suspension of river traffic

A three-week fuel shortage in Brazzaville - aggravated by the suspension of river traffic from Kinshasa - is having increasingly serious consequences for the city's population, the 'Le Choc' weekly reported on Tuesday. The price of petrol has quadrupled, absenteeism of workers and students is mounting and some businesses that depend on generators are prepared to close, 'Le Choc' said. Fuel transported by boat from Kinshasa was helping to ease Brazzaville's shortage, but river traffic between the two cities has been prohibited since the outbreak of the DRC crisis. The delay in the payment of civil servants' salaries is another cause of growing economic hardship facing Brazzaville's population, the newspaper added.

Nairobi, 13 August 1998 15:00 gmt


[The material contained in this communication comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: for more information or free subscriptions. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. IRIN reports are archived on the WWW at: or can be retrieved automatically by sending e-mail to Mailing list: irin-cea-updates]

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

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