IRIN Update 488 for 26 Aug 1998.8.26

IRIN Update 488 for 26 Aug 1998.8.26

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. 488 for Central and Eastern Africa (Wednesday 26 August 1998)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Fighting around Kinshasa

As fighting crackled around Kinshasa today (Wednesday), DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi went on state radio to urge the population to stay calm. He said an operation was underway to flush out rebel fighters hiding out in the outskirts of the city. News reports said there were clashes around the airport and its approaches, but no-one was sure "who had the upper hand", according to the BBC. Speaking on state television yesterday (Tuesday), Mumengi claimed the far west of the country "has been restored to the DRC".

Ugandan, Rwandan troops captured in the west

Ugandan and Rwandan soldiers were captured when Angolan forces seized Kitona air base this week, Zimbabwean military authorities said in Harare yesterday. Zimbabwe also claims that Burundian soldiers are fighting alongside the rebels, SAPA reported.

According to the military briefing, the rebels on the western front number some 6,000. An advance guard has been halted by Zimbabwean troops 100 km west of Kinshasa near Madimba. It was in the same area that Congolese jets reportedly destroyed a five km long rebel column of tanks and armoured cars on Sunday, the SAPA dispatch said.

Inga dam next target for multinational force

Harare says the next target for the multinational intervention force is the Inga dam, the hydro-electric power station on the Congo river. A 'Financial Times' article yesterday warned that if the rebels decided to destroy the dam, it would create a "humanitarian catastrophe" and threaten future copper and cobalt production in the mineral-rich Katanga province. It would also affect power supply to much of central Africa.

Bunia resident panicked by overflying aircraft

An aircraft flew over the northeastern rebel-held town of Bunia today, causing fear and panic, humanitarian sources in contact with town told IRIN. Residents had started fleeing the town, but no further details were immediately available.

South African-led peace mission visits OAU

A South African-led peace mission held talks with OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim in Addis Ababa today. The delegation of foreign ministers of South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia will be travelling on to Luanda and Kinshasa to try and negotiate a ceasefire. Meanwhile, Zambia has denied sending troops to support Kabila, but has tightened security along the common border, 'The Times of Zambia' reported President Frederick Chiluba as saying on Monday.

RCD chairman accuses Kabila of internationalising conflict

Chairman of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) Ernest Wamba dia Wamba has accused President Laurent-Desire Kabila of seeking to internationalise the conflict. Speaking in Bukavu, he said the problem could only be solved "politically and peacefully". "We are very indignant at the behaviour of the [foreign] armies which have come," he said, according to Bukavu radio, monitored by the BBC.

37 massacred in east

Thirty-seven Congolese, including a priest and three nuns, have been killed at a Roman Catholic mission in the town of Kasika, near Uvira, press reports said. The Vatican blamed Sunday's massacre on rebels fighting the DRC government, saying they suspected local people of giving food to a pro-government militia.

Rapprochement between Banyamulenge, Burundi government, think-tank says

The Brussels-based think-tank, International Crisis Group, has noted a rapprochement between the Banyamulenge and the Burundi government. In a 13 August report on the conflict, which focuses on North Kivu but also covers the south, the ICG said "distrust and mutual fear" in South Kivu had led to the creation of a Banyamulenge political movement, the Federalist Republican Forces, directed against Kabila. "For the Burundians the new relationship with the Banyamulenge has a double advantage," the report says. "It strengthens the security of the main route, which passes through South Kivu, for circumventing the embargo on Burundi, and helps to contain what they see as the ambitions of Rwanda and Uganda to dominate the region."

BURUNDI: UN human rights rapporteur visiting

The UN special rapporteur for human rights Paolo Sergio Pinheiro arrived in Bujumbura on Friday for a two-week visit, during which he will review developments in the human rights field, OCHA-Burundi reported. He is due to meet government representatives and members of the humanitarian community and human rights organisations.

Situation in Cibitoke greatly improved

The OCHA report also said that in general, the situation in Cibitoke province had improved considerably over the past six months and the majority of displaced people (which at one point reached 100,000) had returned to their homes where they were cultivating the land again. The population is reportedly benefiting from a relatively good cotton harvest.

However, refugees continue to arrive in Cibitoke, fleeing the conflict in neighbouring DRC. By Friday, the number of arrivals had reached 3,620, the OCHA report said. Temporary shelters and latrines have been set up on two sites, Rugombo and Cibitoke, each capable of holding over 1,000 people.

Italian NGO suspends work following arson attack

The Italian NGO 'Gruppo de Voluntariato Civile' (GVC) has temporarily suspended its activities after its therapeutic feeding centre in Kabezi, Bujumbura rural, was torched by arsonists, its coordinator told IRIN today. She said the centre, which was "completely destroyed" on Friday night, should have opened on 1 September to host around 200 severely malnourished children. The coordinator said GVC operations would remain suspended pending an "official investigation and security assurances".

Five killed in bus ambush

Five people were killed and five others injured in an attack on a bus in Rumonge commune, southern Bururi province, on Sunday, the Agence burundaise de presse, monitored by the BBC, reported. Local military sources said the attackers fled into the surrounding mountains.

Positive regional response crucial for peace process, analyst warns

A report by Burundi specialist Jan Van Eck, received today by IRIN, warns that if the current attempt at political dialogue in the country fails it is doubtful whether the conflicting parties would ever consider it worthwhile to try negotiations again. The report calls for the urgent removal of obstacles to successful talks, stressing particularly the need for a positive regional response. "At a stage when virtually all Burundi's neighbouring countries (Rwanda, Congo and Uganda), are experiencing seriously deteriorating internal conflict situations - and none of these countries have even started the process of talking or negotiating with their political and/or military opponents - Burundi at the moment is the only country trying to actively find a durable solution to its serious problems through internal and external negotiations," the report says.

SUDAN: Over 26,000 under-fives enrolled in Bahr al-Ghazal feeding programmes

NGOs say a total of 26,263 children under-five have been enrolled in selective feeding programmes in Bahr al-Ghazal, according to WFP's latest report on Sudan. MSF reported that a nutritional survey last week of under-fives in Ajiep, western Bahr al-Ghazal province, indicated a global malnutrition rate of 55 percent, including a severe malnutrition rate of 30 percent. NGOs predict that the number of beneficiaries in feeding programmes is likely to increase to approximately 55,000 as they continue to expand their programmes. WFP also said relief efforts were ongoing throughout Bahr al-Gahzal, especially Gogrial, Aweil East and Tonj which are most affected by the longer hunger gap, due to erratic rains in May and June.

KENYA: IFRC appeal to support Red Cross assistance programme to bomb victms

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched an appeal for 845,000 Swiss francs to support a Kenya Red Cross programme of medical and social assistance in the aftermath of this month's bomb blast. The programme is backed by the IFRC. Over 250 people were killed and more than 5,000 injured by the explosion. IFRC says 1,000 people will be helped over a period of 12 months.

Nairobi, 26 August 1998, 14:15 gmt


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Date: Wed, 26 Aug 1998 17:11:15 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 488 for 26 Aug 1998.8.26

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

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