IRIN-CEA Update 730 for 6 Aug [19990807]

IRIN-CEA Update 730 for 6 Aug [19990807]

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-CEA Update No. 730 for Central and Eastern Africa (Friday 6 Aug 1999)

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Uganda condemns bombing of Makanza and Bogbongo

The Ugandan government on Thursday condemned the bombings of Makanza and Bogbongo towns in northern DRC and warned that this was a "serious violation" of the Lusaka accord and could "shatter the fragile pact," AFP quoted Uganda's Regional Cooperation Minister Amama Mbabazi as saying. "If we continue committing these violations then the whole agreement will collapse which is not in anybody's best interest," he said. "That is why we feel that those who are supposed to sign this agreement should sign," he added.

The attacks which are blamed on Sudanese Antonovs believed to have dropped 18 bombs in the two towns killed over 500 people both soldiers and civilians. However, Uganda's semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper quoted the country's Defence Minister Steven Kavuma as saying no member of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) was killed "because that is not where they are located."

Meanwhile, the Ugandan government has suspended commercial flights from Entebbe International Airport to the rebel-held areas in eastern DRC, 'New Vision' reported. Independent sources told the newspaper this could be part of the 10 July Lusaka peace agreement aimed at ending the DRC war. Adding that the Uganda's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also reportedly stopped the flights effective 30 July. The paper, however, said the abrupt suspension of the flights has greatly affected many Congolese who have been using the aircraft as the main link between Entebbe and Kisangani.

DRC: Wamba RCD faction denies "anti-Tutsi campaigns"

The Kisangani faction of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie, led by Ernest Wamba dia Wamba, on Friday denied having any involvement in an anti-Tutsi campaign in DRC. "We have never engaged in an anti-Tutsi campaign. We have always denounced such a thing and our polices all denounce the same," RCD-Kisangani's Rapporteur Jacques Depelchin told IRIN. He said his party was against "ethnicity politics" and have always denounced and "will continue denouncing" such politics. He was reacting to press reports which claimed that Wamba had support in the area because of "his support for that anti-Tutsi campaign and the Lusaka peace process." He said such were rumours that the rival RCD-Goma faction would easily peddle around.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Congolese soldiers repatriated to DRC

Several hundred Congolese soldiers who had taken refuge in Bangui as Jean-Pierre Bemba's Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) advanced on and seized Gemena and Zongo, just across the river, were on Thursday repatriated to Kinshasa. The troops, disarmed by Central African Republic soldiers and apparently fearful of punishment back at home, were flown out to DRC from Mboko airport in a Libyan cargo plane, Radio France

Internationale reported. The operation was expected to take several more days to complete, the station added.

RWANDA: Malnutrition a serious problem in the northwest

A survey of the Gisenyi prefecture in the northwest has confirmed observer reports of chronic malnutrition and food insecurity. A nutrition survey by the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and WFP confirmed chronic malnutrition affecting 59.6 percent of those surveyed (national average 41.8%), a global acute malnutrition rate of 11 percent and a severe acute malnutrition rate of 7.3 percent. The survey also noted that 82 percent of expenditure in the households surveyed was on food, and that 79 percent lacked any food stocks, a UN report received by IRIN stated. The number of female-headed households, a common indicator of vulnerable populations, has almost doubled in Gisenyi since December 1998, it added. "In Gisenyi, assistance is urgently needed in the communes of Gaseke, Ramba, Kibilira and Satinsyi", the report stated. Though a nutritional survey has not been undertaken in Ruhengeri due to lack of funding, it is anticipated that the results would be similar, and perhaps worse.

Prolonged drought seriously hampering food production

A humanitarian worker familiar with the northwest told IRIN on Friday the non-availability of seeds, tools and inputs to formerly displaced people returning to the area between January and march, combined with the early cessation of rains in mid-May and prolonged drought since, had caused abiding problems of food production and security in the region, traditionally the 'bread basket' of Rwanda. The Ministry of Agriculture office for Ruhengeri indicated a shortfall of about 70 percent in cereal and bean production for the 1999 'B season', and the potato crop was also poor, a UN report stated. Farmers have been unable to replenish their seeds and FAO has appealed for donor funding to allow it undertake a seed distribution by the end of August, it added.

Shell pays $2.1 million for government share in Petrorwanda

The government on Thursday agreed a $2.1 million deal with Shell under which it acquired 19 of the 32 retail service stations previously owned by the state-run oil company, Petrorwanda. In addition, the government agreed to lease the Gatsata depots, 15 km northeast of Kigali, for 30 years. "The sale of the company's assets stems from the heavy losses that have always been incurred ... the divestiture is another step taken by the government towards full liberalisation of the economy", Rwandan News Agency quoted Donald Kaberuka, Rwandan Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, as saying.

Shell managing director, Paul Maes, said the company would inject $5 million to rehabilitate the Petrorwanda network. The divestiture coincided with a steep rise in petrol prices in Kigali on Wednesday, which had seriously disrupted transport in the capital. The price of a litre jumped from 230 to 265 Rwandan francs as oil dealers complained that reduced axle weight on Kenyan and Tanzanian roads had increased their costs.

BURUNDI: Amnesty condemns "illegal execution" of army officer

The human rights watchdog Amnesty International has expressed its shock and concern at reports of the execution in Mabanda military camp, southern Burundi, of Corporal Bonaventure Ndikumana. Amnesty said it was concerned that the execution (the first known official execution in the country since July 1997), for the alleged murder of a military officer on 21 July, took place outside the due process of Burundi law and international standards.

It claimed said Ndikumana was denied his due rights of appeal and expressed concern "about unfair trials by military courts in Burundi" because procedures were often flawed and judges subject to the orders of military superiors. "Unless the government of Burundi publicly and strongly condemns the incident and those responsible are held accountable, further illegal executions may occur", an Amnesty press release stated.

TANZANIA: Government receives OAU grants for drought relief and roadworks

The OAU on Thursday granted Tanzania $800,000 from its special emergency assistance fund towards the country's efforts to repair infrastructural damage caused by last year's storms. Tanzanian permanent representative to the OAU, Charles S Kileo, signed the grant agreement with OAU Secretary-General, Salim Ahmed Salim, and said it would help alleviate "the effects of drought and unprecedented El-Nino rains which destroyed bridges, railways systems, roads and property", news agencies reported.

Nairobi, 6 August 1999 14:30 GMT


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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

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

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