IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 50-98 1998.12.11

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 50-98 1998.12.11

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:

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 50-98 covering the period 4-10 Dec 1998

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila lambasts Pretoria

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila has accused the South African government of being "puppets of the aggressors" in his country's civil war. Speaking in an interview on Wednesday night with SABC television, Kabila said he was surprised that South Africa had not asked the aggressors to leave the country immediately. "This double-standard is unpleasant for all the people of Congo." He said there would be no ceasefire in his country until Rwandan and Ugandan troops withdrew. Meanwhile, South African Foreign Ministry spokesman Marco Boni told IRIN: "It is critical that a ceasefire be implemented without delay and that it should be followed by the withdrawal of all foreign troops."

Salim seeks more decisive action

Speaking at a news conference in Pretoria after meeting South African officials, Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Salim Ahmed Salim said on Wednesday that the crisis in DRC would be the main focus of next week's OAU meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Meanwhile, Kabila, who this week again ruled out direct negotiations with the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), held talks with Zambian President Frederick Chiluba on Wednesday and then arrived in Nairobi and met Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi. No details of the talks were made available.

Burundian soldiers reportedly killed near Moba

The bodies of Burundian army soldiers killed in recent fighting near Moba in Katanga province were "clandestinely" transported back to Burundi via Uvira in South Kivu on Sunday, the Missionary Service News Agency (MISNA) said this week. MISNA said some 3,000 Burundian troops were backing rebel forces in DRC. Burundi has consistently denied any military involvement in the conflict.

Zimbabwean forces sink rebel boats

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean planes or helicopters sank two rebel boats on Lake Tanganyika on Monday some 40 km north of Moba, AFP said. Citing independent sources in Kinshasa, AFP said the boats were carrying an unspecified number of rebel reinforcements. The sources reported "atrocious fighting" around Moba, AFP added.

Namibians killed in DRC offensive

The Namibian defence ministry confirmed to IRIN on Wednesday that three of its soldiers had so far lost their lives since the start of the intervention. A defence ministry spokesman said one of the soldiers had died of malaria "early on in the campaign" and that two others had died late last week in an attack on Moba. The spokesman gave no further details and said he could not disclose the number of troops Namibia had sent.

ICRC visiting over 3,500 war-related detainees

ICRC is currently visiting over 3,500 persons (civilian internees, POWs and other detainees) held in relation to the DRC conflict both inside the country and abroad. Among those are 43 Rwandan soldiers that have been transferred to Zimbabwe and 15 Zimbabwean soldiers who were captured in the DRC, ICRC in Nairobi told IRIN.

EU threatens to reduce aid to combatants

The European Union (EU) threatened on Wednesday to decrease aid to countries involved in the DRC conflict if a political settlement was not reached. In a statement received by IRIN and issued at a donors' meeting on Uganda, the EU said it recognised Uganda's "legitimate security concerns" but found it "doubtful" that the "military presence and activity up to 700 km from the Ugandan border solely serves that purpose."

125,000 vulnerable people need food aid

Humanitarian sources told IRIN on Tuesday that 125,000 vulnerable people, of which a large majority are displaced, need urgent food assistance in South Kivu. In a report received by IRIN, they said that important food deficits were reported in the province as agricultural activity had been paralysed. The report, which stressed that the identification of the vulnerable population was incomplete, added that about 40 percent of the province's health facilities had been destroyed or looted.

Meanwhile, l'Association africaine de defense de droits de l'homme (ASADHO), in a statement received on Monday by IRIN, has accused rebel authorities in South Kivu of launching a "vast campaign of repression and arrest" targeting human rights workers.

Nutritional and health concerns in Kisangani

An interagency assessment mission which recently visited Kisangani identified humanitarian needs that should be urgently addressed, but no acute emergency situation. It expressed concern over the nutrition situation, the lack of water treatment chemicals and of medicines in the town. The local economy has been severely affected by the war, mainly because of the interruption of usual supply routes since rebels captured Kisangani on 23 August.

Nyunzu residents hiding in forests

Most of the 40,000 residents of Nyunzu town in Katanga fled fighting last month, and few people have returned since its capture by rebel forces, IPS said on Wednesday. An IPS journalist in Nyunzu said most residents were still hiding in nearby forests because of frequent aerial bombing by Zimbabwean aircraft. "People are trying to come back to the town to get some salt and soap but by 11:00 a.m., they rush back to their hideouts," IPS quoted one resident as saying.

RWANDA: Legislators call for enquiry in UN genocide warnings

A member of the US House of Representatives, Cynthia McKinney, and Belgian senator Alain Destexhe have called for an investigation into why the UN failed to act on advance warnings of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, media reports said on Tuesday. Their call followed a BBC television interview in which a senior UN official, Iqbal Riza, admitted the world body had failed to recognise that the 1994 genocide was being planned.

Poor conditions for displaced in 17 camps

The conditions under which hundreds of thousands of displaced persons are living in northwest Rwanda remain poor and more assistance is required to avert a humanitarian catastrophe, according to UN agencies in Kigali. In a UN press statement received by IRIN, the agencies said although nearly 3,000 mt of food was delivered to the displaced in November, there was still an urgent need for shelter, health, water and sanitation inputs in the camps.

Meanwhile, the government has identified sites in the northwest communes of Cyeru and Rwerere for the resettlement of displaced populations and topographical surveys are currently being done, according to the latest monthly report prepared by OCHA-Rwanda.

BURUNDI: Another displaced camp attacked

Hutu rebels attacked a displaced persons camp south of Bujumbura on Monday, killing 25 people and injuring 20 others, the German press agency DPA said. Quoting a military spokesman, DPA said the attack took place at Buruhukiro camp in Rumonge, 62 km from the capital. Meanwhile, humanitarian sources in Burundi said last week's attack on the Gihungwe displaced camp in Bubanza was followed by a second attack at the same site the following afternoon.

OCHA "extremely concerned" for displaced

Attacks against displaced populations in Burundi have increased significantly, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said on Monday in New York, quoting an OCHA statement. Eckhard said OCHA was "extremely concerned" about the reported increase in violence against displaced persons in camps. Meanwhile, humanitarian sources told IRIN there has been a detectable increase in insecurity in Bujumbura rurale and that the heaviest and most prolonged fighting since January was heard on the outskirts of the capital during the night of 2-3 December.

Peace commissions to meet next week

Three working commissions of the Burundi peace process are scheduled to meet in Arusha, Tanzania, on 14 December ahead of the fourth round of talks slated for 18 January, the independent Hirondelle news agency said last Friday. The three 18-member commissions will deal with the nature of the conflict, democracy and good governance, and peace and security, Hirondelle said.

SUDAN: NPA reports bombing of Chukudum

Government planes bombed the town of Chukudum in eastern Equatoria on Monday, the NGO Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) said. In a statement received by IRIN, NPA said an Antonov aircraft dropped six bombs on the town, but no casualties were reported. NPA, which runs a hospital and medical training school in Chukudum, said the bombing "aimed at disrupting normal life from returning to areas under SPLM/A control."

Eritrean refugees await repatriation agreement

Negotiations are continuing between UNHCR and the governments of Sudan and Eritrea for the voluntary repatriation of Eritrean refugees in Sudan, UNHCR said. There are currently 147,302 Eritrean refugees in UNHCR-supported camps and settlements in eastern Sudan, the vast majority of whom wish to return to their home country, UNHCR told IRIN. The refugee camps are also hosting 11,889 Ethiopians and 100 Somalis, while an estimated 195,331 Eritreans and 28,100 Ethiopians are living in urban areas of the country, according to UNHCR.

UGANDA: Museveni's brother quits over bank scandal

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's brother, Major General Salim Saleh, resigned as defence advisor over the weekend after admitting a role in a corrupt bank deal, news media reported. Saleh acknowledged he had used a Malaysian company as a front to buy the state-owned Uganda Commercial Bank. Museveni said in a statement on Sunday that Saleh's resignation was a "curtain raiser in the struggle to rectify mistakes and indiscipline" that has crept into government.

Nine people killed in Bundibugyo attacks

Three people were killed and four wounded on Sunday in an Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel attack on a displaced persons camp at Kirindi trading centre in the western district of Bundibugyo, news agencies said. Another ADF attack took place in the same district on 1 December, killing six people, the "New Vision said.

Lord's Resistance Army "not religious"

The Lord's Resistance Movement (LRM), the political wing of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), claims the LRM/A is a non-religious, non-tribal armed resistance movement. In a statement received by IRIN on Monday, the LRA, notorious for abductions of children, also protested "abductions" by the government during a recent security sweep in Gulu. The independent 'Monitor' newspaper said that about 4,000 ethnic Acholi people were rounded up in a security operation at the Gulu stadium, while 1,500 people were held in a similar operation in Kampala on 20 November.

Meanwhile, AP said LRA rebels abducted 18 people in an attack on the Anaka displaced camp in the north on Sunday.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Patasse's party ahead in first round vote

The constitutional court in Bangui announced on Monday that 45 out of 109 assembly seats had been filled in the first round of the legislative elections, press agencies reported today. President Ange-Felix Patasse's party, the Mouvement de liberation du peuple centrafricain (MLPC), had won 27 of those seats, while the opposition was taking 15 seats and independent candidates three, they said. The remaining seats will be decided in the second round of voting scheduled for 13 December.

TANZANIA: Refugees fined

Some 226 Burundian refugees have been punished by the Tanzanian authorities for travelling out of their camp without authorisation, press reports said on Thursday. Most were ordered to pay a fine or to serve six months imprisonment, while some were sentenced to 20 strokes of the cane. The 226 refugees were arrested on 30 November.

Meanwhile, 228 Burundian and Rwandan refugees from Hutu/Tutsi mixed marriages left Tanzania at the weekend for a new home in the United States where they have been granted refugee status because of their "unique vulnerability", an IOM official told IRIN on Monday. Most of the refugee immigrants are the children of mixed couples.

Cholera outbreak in Kigoma

A total of 625 cases of cholera have been recorded in Kigoma between 1 October and 4 December and some 22 deaths have been attributed to the disease, a WHO official told IRIN on Wednesday. The outbreak has mainly affected people in Kigoma's local communities, with only 32 cases reported among the refugee populations, WHO said.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Angolan reinforcements sent to Pool

Angolan soldiers have been deployed to the Pool region south of Brazzaville to reinforce government troops in the face of increasing violence in the area, news agencies said. AFP said two Angolan army companies left Brazzaville on Tuesday for Mindouli. At least 63 people were killed on Saturday in clashes between Ninja militia and government forces near Mindouli, news agencies said.

Refugees crossing to DRC

Between 7,000-10,000 people fleeing violence in Pool have crossed to the DRC, a UNHCR spokesman in Geneva told IRIN on Wednesday. The refugees are gathered just north of Luozi in Bas-Congo province. UNHCR has sent medical kits and biscuits to Luozi, the spokesman said, adding that a mission is planned to assess the situation of the refugees.

HUMAN RIGHTS: 50th anniversary of universal declaration marked

In a statement to a General Assembly commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday said that without human rights "no peace or prosperity can endure". Annan said it was a day to recall "not only the rights attained over 50 years, but also the rights denied; to pursue the achievement of justice by all and for all; and to pursue the violators of human rights with greater persistence than ever. It is the day to renew our commitment to globalising justice in the age of globalization."

UNITED NATIONS: UNICEF focuses on education as "fundamental right"

UNICEF on Tuesday launched its annual 'State of the World's Children' report focusing on the urgent need to secure the "fundamental human right" of quality education for every child. UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy noted that more than 130 million children of primary school age in developing countries, including 73 million girls, were growing up without access to basic education. "The world can no longer afford such an enormous waste of human potential," she said. (The 'State of the World's Children 1999' report is available on UNICEF's web site at

African countries among world's most undernourished, FAO says

A new FAO report says 800 million people in developing countries are chronically undernourished and two billion more suffer from deficiencies of vital vitamins and minerals. Even when food supplies are adequate at national level, access to food is often a serious problem, said Hartwig de Haen, FAO Assistant Director-General. The report, which contains data on nutrition and malnutrition in 177 countries, shows that Burundi, Eritrea and Somalia are among those with the lowest food availability. (The full report is available on FAO's website

Nairobi, 11 December 1998


Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 15:08:02 +0300 (GMT+0300) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-Up 50-98 1998.12.11

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,