IRIN Update 407 for 30 Apr 98.4.30

IRIN Update 407 for 30 Apr 98.4.30

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. 407 for Central and Eastern Africa (Thursday 30 April 1998)

RWANDA: 4,000 displaced due to insecurity in Gitarama

Officials in central Gitarama prefecture say 4,000 people have fled their homes due to insecurity and harassment by suspected Hutu militias, the Rwanda News Agency reported yesterday (Wednesday). Particularly affected were the communes of Buringa, Nyakabanda, Nyabikenke and Rutobwe. RNA said the internally displaced people were receiving assistance from organisations such as Concern, the ICRC, the IBUKA genocide survivors' group and the social welfare ministry. Meanwhile, in Mushubati commune, seven people including six children were hacked to death on Tuesday by machete-wielding attackers, RNA reported.

World urged to help eradicate culture of impunity

Foreign Minister Anastase Gasana has urged the international community to assist in eradicating the culture of impunity in Rwanda, according to Rwandan radio yesterday. Addressing the diplomatic corps, he said the government was shocked that those who simply stood and watched during the 1994 genocide were now calling for the killers to be pardoned. The recent executions of genocide convicts demonstrated that Rwanda had begun the process of eradicating impunity, he stressed. With the advent of the next century, Rwanda would not tolerate the suffering of any of its citizens at the hands of "criminals", he added. Those who had nothing to offer in the way of assistance, should "abstain from interfering" in Rwanda's judicial process.

ICTR slams Amnesty report

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) has strongly condemned criticism of its operations by the human rights group Amnesty International. In a report released today (Thursday), Amnesty accuses the tribunal of "weaknesses" and shortcomings". A statement also issued today by the ICTR expreses regret that Amnesty has "joined the bandwagon" of those who find it "fashionable" to denigrate the court. Regarding the detention of genocide suspect, ex-premier Jean Kambanda, who has not been held at the ICTR detention facilities, the statement points out the ICTR statute provides for holding detainees in safe houses if necessary. The statement rejects Amnesty's claims that a "dangerous precedent" has been set for "overlooking international standards", and accuses the organisation of "armchair allegations that have no basis".

Weekly warns of new "terrorist pressure" in Great Lakes

The state-owned 'La Nouvelle Releve' weekly has commented that Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Burundi "are facing a new terrorist pressure", RNA reported. In its latest issue, the publication said although there was little evidence of a "coherent threat" from rebels in the subregion "there exists a coordination between different groups who share the same genocidal ideology and the same logisitics". Sources cited by the weekly claim the rebels have bases in Masisi (DRC), Congo-Brazzaville, the Central African Republic as well as Kenya and Tanzania. The publication claimed the insurgents were backed by the pirate hate radio "Voix du Patriote", whose broadcasts it believed were now coming from Kigoma in western Tanzania.

BURUNDI: Police surround university to stop student protest

Armed police in Bujumbura are continuing to surround the main university campus to prevent students marching out in protest against unpaid grants, the BBC reported. It said the trouble began last week when students staged a sit-in over the government's refusal to pay two months' worth of grants. The government says students were not eligible for grants last October and November as they were carrying out their military service.

SUDAN: OCHA appeals for aid to south

OCHA has appealed urgently for funds to respond to the worsening humanitarian situation in southern Sudan, particularly in Bahr al-Ghazal state where an estimated 350,000 people are desperately in need of assistance. In a press release, OCHA calls for a generous response to the 1998 UN Consolidated Appeal which is seeking US $109.3 million to meet the needs of war and drought-affected Sudanese. To date, US $7.85 million have been received, 7.2 percent of the appeal.

WFP barge convoy sets off along Nile

A WFP barge convoy left the southern Sudan port of Malakal earlier this week at the start of a six-week voyage to drop off food supplies along the Nile. The trip is due to end in the town of Juba. Seven barges, carrying 2,040 mt of cereals and pulses, will stop in 34 villages, a WFP press release said today. WFP estimates a total of 377,350 people in government and rebel-held areas will be provided with food. The barge convoy is the first of three trips planned to Juba this year.

Government medical survey postponed

The Khartoum government has for the second time postponed a survey programme for determining basic medical needs in the war-torn south, citing insecurity. In a statement to SUNA yesterday, the minister of social planning, Hasan Dhahawi, said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) could not proceed due to "rejection by the outlaw movement" and the non-arrival of security guarantees for aid workers. However an ICRC spokesman told IRIN today the ICRC was "waiting for approval from the SPLA."

GREAT LAKES: EU envoy rules out military solutions

Aldo Ajello, the EU special envoy to the Great Lakes region, has ruled out military solutions to the region's political problems. He told a European Parliament committee hearing this week the situation in Burundi, Rwanda and DRC was different in each country and acknowledged finding political solutions was "highly complicated". According to an EU press release, Ajello said that in Burundi it appeared a negotiated solution was beginning to emerge at both international and domestic level. In Rwanda, the genocide was still an "open wound". The legal system would need 300 years to try some 130,000 people in prison, and therefore he favoured a distinction being made between the ringleaders and "footsoldiers". The Rwandan authorities were beginning to come round to this point of view, but he was aware of the many related problems to this procedure. In DRC, the situation was complicated by an inexperienced government, he said. He called for a regional solution to former soldiers who were rampaging round the region "with no money or future, but who have kalashnikovs". It was especially wrong to try and impose a western-style democracy in the region, he added.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Government team to assess quake damage

A government team is flying to northern Congo today to assess the situation following a powerful earthquake in the remote Likouala region. The quake, whose epicentre was the town of Epena with some 7,000 residents, struck the region on Sunday, but so far there have been no details of damage or casualties. UNICEF has provided the government team with emergency supplies.

Appeal for response to "humanitarian emergency" in Mouyondzi

The Bishop of Nkayi, Monsignor Bernard Nsayi, has called on the international community to respond to a humanitarian emergency which he says has resulted from the recent fighting between government forces and militia allied to former president Pascal Lissouba in the Mouyondzi area of Bouenza region, southern Congo. In an interview published today in 'La Semaine Africaine' weekly newspaper, the bishop said that "in certain locations, everything has been looted. The population is suffering because there is nothing left to eat, and nothing to treat sick people with."

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Human rights activists arrested

Paul Nsapu and Sabin Banza, respectively president and vice-president of the DRC human rights organisation 'La Ligue des electeurs', have been arrested, Radio France Internationale reported yesterday. According to the Agence congolaise de presse, 'La Ligue des electeurs' is one of the 32 human rights organisations which have been authorised by the DRC government.

UGANDA: Government may negotiate with LRA

The Ugandan government told IRIN today it may consider holding peace talks with the rebel Lord's Resistance Army, even though it had not received a formal request. Minister of State for Political Affairs, Amama Mbabazi, reiterated the government's desire for peaceful negotiations in resolving political issues and said they must be held "within the constitutional framework." He however warned that Uganda would "find it difficult to negotiate" the LRA's support for the Sudanese government. Mbabazi stated he was not aware of the rebels' demands but warned the LRA's denouncement of "its crime against humanity" would be a prerequisite for negotiations. Meanwhile nine LRA rebels were killed and two others captured on Saturday in a clash with the Ugandan army in Kitgum, the state-owned 'New Vision' reported yesterday.

Frustrated fishermen reportedly killing fish to catch them

Lake Victoria fishermen are reportedly turning to "more deadly" ways of catching fish as the water hyacinth menace continues to prevent them from launching their boats, the All Africa News Agency reported. It said fishermen in Uganda and parts of Kenya are using poisonous herbs to kill fish which are then gathered as "floaters" and sold for public consumption. Uganda's Commissioner for Fisheries, C.Dhatemwa, warned the use of insecticides to kill fish was now common at Jinja, Mukono and Bugiri and on the Kenyan border. Consumers are warned to beware of fish that appear greenish, have milky gills and scales that peel off easily.

ANGOLA: UN approves extension of peacekeepers' mandate

The UN Security Council yesterday unanimously approved a two-month extension of the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA). The Council endorsed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recommendation to completely withdraw most UN personnel by no later than 1 July 1998. Annan had called on the Council to withdraw 595 of MONUA's 1,045 troops between late April and 1 July and suggested that the remaining 450 soldiers - including 90 military observers - remain in Angola until late 1998.

The Council called on UNITA to complete all remaining obligations under the Lusaka Protocol. It cautioned UNITA against its "pattern of delays and linkages" and asked it to cooperate in normalising state administration especially in Andulo and Bailundo. Ben Jackson, the director of the London-based peace and developmental lobby group Action for Southern Africa, told IRIN today that "very substantial dangers remain" over the implementation of the peace process. He said there needs to be "substantial political backing from the Security Council to make UNITA fully comply."

Amnesty accuses army of atrocities in Cabinda

Amnesty International has accused Angolan security forces of torturing and killing unarmed civilians suspected of supporting separatist rebels in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda. The Amnesty report released yesterday alleged that the authorities' failure to investigate the abuses "strongly indicates that the perpetrators are acting with the acquiescence, if not the complicity, of the government." According to Jackson, the allegations underline "why we need a (UN) monitoring force backed by substantial political will".

Nairobi, 30 April 1998, 15:25 gmt


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Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 18:25:43 -0300 (GMT+3) Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Update 407 for 30 Apr 98.4.30 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.980430182428.22901A-p://

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

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