IRIN Weekly Round-up 15-98 3-9 Apr 98.4.10

IRIN Weekly Round-up 15-98 3-9 Apr 98.4.10

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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[The weekly roundup is based on IRIN daily updates and other relevant information from UN agencies, NGOs, governments, donors and the media. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.]

Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 15-98 covering the period 3-9 Apr 1998

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Belgium denies weapons cache allegations

Belgium has strongly denied allegations by the DRC of gun-running in Lubumbashi. Congolese television on Saturday said the security services had discovered an arsenal of assault weapons at the Belgian consulate in DRC's second city. The television report claimed the arsenal was "enough to storm a fortress" and accused the Belgian diplomats of not declaring the weapons to the local authorities. However, a statement by the Belgian embassy in Kinshasa on Sunday expressed "surprise" over the allegations, describing them as "either total ignorance of the facts or irresponsible and manipulative behaviour by certain people". Belgian Foreign Minister Erik Derycke, speaking on Belgian television, accused the DRC authorities of "organising a dramatic set-up".

The DRC foreign ministry responded by accusing Belgium of "insulting behaviour". The statement, broadcast by DRC television on Tuesday, deplored Belgium's "constant will to interfere in the DRC's domestic affairs". It however added that Congo wanted to pursue cooperation with Belgium and hoped it would continue to finance its three-year development programme.

UNHCR deplores expulsions from South Kivu

UNHCR told IRIN on Thursday that the DRC military at the weekend expelled about 500 refugees, many of them women and children, from the Uvira region. Two hundred Burundians were sent to the border and are being moved to Gatumba transit centre by UNHCR. Another 140 Rwandans were forced back across their border. About 40 Congolese were mistakenly sent to Burundi and then sent back. UNHCR estimates additional refugees were refouled, dispersed within South Kivu or fled back into Burundi's Cibitoke province or Rwanda. UNHCR "deeply regrets" the operation, spokeswoman Paula Ghedini told IRIN. News agencies state that the DRC authorities cited secuity concerns and commandeered aid agency trucks in the operation. An estimated 8,000 refugees are in South Kivu, most of whom are Burundians. "A constant revolving door" situation makes it difficult to keep track of refugees in the area, Ghedini said.

UNICEF expresses surprise over Kabila's accusations

UNICEF has expressed "great surprise" over President Laurent-Desire Kabila's accusations that it is helping rebels in eastern DRC. During a visit to Goma this week, Kabila accused UNICEF of "serving as a mailbox" for the Mayi-Mayi rebels. Rejecting the allegation, a UNICEF spokeswoman told IRIN on Wednesday the agency was holding high-level negotiations with the DRC authorities on the seizure of equipment and the detention of a local staff member in Goma.

Kabila visits North Kivu to "restore order"

During his trip to North Kivu Kabila said he had come to restore order. He also ruled out negotiations with Mayi-Mayi rebels and vowed to wipe out his enemies, state radio reported. "I have come to Kivu to bring order and for that I don't expect to negotiate with anyone," he said. Fighting has been under way for several days in the Beni area of North Kivu. News reports quoted Major Jean-Pierre Ondekani, commander of the DRC army's 10th brigade, as saying mopping-up operations were under way. According to AFP, a senior Ugandan officer said the rebels - linked to the anti-Kampala Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) - attacked Beni last Friday to try and capture arms from the brigade headquarters there.

AZADHO human rights organisation banned

The DRC authorities have banned the national human rights organisation AZADHO. Justice Minister Kongolo Mwenze, speaking on DRC television on Saturday, said AZADHO had no formal authorisation and had therefore been operating illegally. He accused the organisation of "indulging in political campaigns instead of providing objective reports", adding that it was funded by foreign groups and could not be considered Congolese. However, AZADHO's president Guillaume Ngefa - quoted by Radio France Internationale - stated the ban would be ignored. "The government is looking for a scapegoat to cover its political and economic failure," he said.

List of "politically excluded" revoked

A presidential statement on Friday declared "null and void" a list of 248 names excluded from political activity issued by the constitutional commission earlier last week. The statement said commission president Anicet Kashamura had been acting in "an individual capacity" and the government distanced itself from the list. The commission's responsibilities were limited to drawing up a draft constitution for the third republic, the statement added.

International financial accords to be revised

Kinshasa has announced that the former regime's agreements with international financial institutions will be revised. Government spokesman Raphael Ghenda told a press briefing on Monday the new government was "not a continuation" of the old regime. Therefore, it was "imperative" for the DRC to "withdraw from the oppressive schemes" of the West. He added that any foreign aid should go directly to the government and not via NGOs or other organisations.

RWANDA: Bizimungu urges Europe to help genocide survivors

President Pasteur Bizimungu on Tuesday said it was Europe's duty to help genocide survivors because it had failed to stop the slaughter in 1994. In a speech in the western prefecture of Kibuye to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the genocide, Bizimungu said Rwanda bore no grudge towards Europe. "When we evoke the responsibility of some European countries, we don't want confrontation," he said. He however noted that many genocide suspects were still at large in Europe and appealed that they be brought to book.

French missiles downed Habyarimana's plane, expert says

A Belgian academic on Tuesday stated that French missiles were responsible for bringing down the plane that killed Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundi counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira on 6 April 1994. AFP said Philippe Reyntjens told a French parliamentary investigation his information was based on military sources from Belgium, Britain and the US. On Monday, former French cooperation minister Bernard Debre had alleged the missiles were from US stocks and had been supplied by Uganda, a claim strongly denied by Kampala.

ICTR rejects joint trial

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has rejected a request by the prosecution for a joint trial of genocide suspects. The judge rejected the request as some of those indicted are already facing hearings in other cases. News reports said the prosecutor's request was prompted by criticism of the ICTR's slow pace of progress.

TANZANIA: UN and Tanzania deny reports of Interahamwe training camp

UNHCR Tanzania has strongly denied allegations by the Agence burundaise de presse that the Mbuba reception centre in northwest Ngara district is being used as a training camp for Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR soldiers. The acting UNHCR representative for Tanzania, Lennart Kotsalainen, told IRIN on Thursday Mbuba is a reception centre for Burundian and Rwandan asylum-seekers, controlled by the Tanzanian government with assistance from UNHCR. A UNHCR spokeswoman told IRIN that despite "porous borders" the refugee agency "confirms the civilian character of the camps in Tanzania." A Tanzanian government official told IRIN there was "absolutely no truth" in the allegations carried on Burundian state radio.

BURUNDI: Government, CNDD reject human rights report

Both the Burundi authorities and the rebel Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie (CNDD) have denied a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that they are responsible for killing civilians. A statement issued by President Pierre Buyoya's office denounced the report as "false accusations that had no foundation". It said the report made no refence to the government's efforts to "protect civilians from attacks by armed gangs who are running wild".

For its part, CNDD rejected the "untrue allegations" contained in the HRW report. Spokesman Jerome Ndiho told IRIN on Thursday that CNDD's armed wing, Forces pour la defense de la democratie (FDD), does not massacre civilians as it would be killing its "electorate".

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Central African leaders meet to discuss security

The presidents of Congo-Brazzaville, Chad and the Central African Republic met in the southern Congolese city of Pointe Noire on Friday to discuss security in the region. Radio France Internationale said they pledged to restore and maintain peace and security within their countries and along their borders.

Sassou Nguesso tries to calm fears of Pointe Noire attack

At the weekend, Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso tried to calm fears of an imminent attack on Pointe-Noire by supporters of ousted president Pascal Lissouba, Gabonese radio reported. It said the rumours circulating about the attack had caused anxiety in the city, as militiamen were said to be strengthening their positions in the area. The president described the rumours as unfounded.

Humanitarian sources told IRIN the rail service between Brazzaville and Pointe Noire has been suspended since Saturday due to fighting in the Mouyondzi area, a town on the railway line about halfway between the two cities. The sources point out the fighting does not appear to present a direct risk to Brazzaville at the moment.

Human rights group protests summary executions

A Congolese human rights group, L'Observatoire congolaise des droits de l'homme (OCDH) has issued a public statement to protest against summary executions and arbitrary arrests of actual or supposed supporters of the defeated Lissouba regime. The human rights violations are being committed by armed men in military uniform, the OCDH said.

UGANDA: Kampala bombing on eve of Clinton's visit - minister

Ugandan rebels exploded a small home-made bomb in central Kampala on the eve of US President Bill Clinton's visit, Minister of State for Internal Affairs Tom Butime told AFP on Wednesday. He said the bomb exploded on 23 March at Platinum House, less than a kilometre from the Sheraton Hotel. The government had attributed the explosion, which caused no casualties, to faulty electrical wiring. The bomb "went off as planned, but it was very mild," Butime said. He said the device was planted by the ADF. He accused the rebel group of being behind a series of explosions in Kampala, including an attack on two hotel cafes on Saturday night which killed four people. US diplomats have denied that the explosion at Platinum House was a bomb.

UNICEF condemns LRA "barbarism"

UNICEF has condemned the "barbaric behaviour" of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army which has abducted thousands of children over the years. Speaking in Geneva last Thursday, UNICEF's deputy executive director Stephen Lewis said between 6,000 and 8,000 children had been kidnapped over the past five years, half of whom had managed to escape but who "bear scars and mutilations". Many others are feared dead.

SUDAN: Lifting of aid flight ban temporary, Khartoum says

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail on Thursday stressed the lifting of the ban on aid flights to Bahr al-Ghazal was temporary and aimed at "creating a suitable atmosphere for the success of forthcoming peace negotiations" in Nairobi this month. AFP said he told a news conference the suspension would be temporary until rebels in the south agreed to a ceasefire. Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang announced his support for a ceasefire "on humanitarian grounds", the official Kenya News Agency reported on Monday.

WFP warns funds needed to purchase food

WFP said Khartoum's lifting of the flight ban adds to the urgency for funds to purchase food and non-food supplies and to support additional aircraft to airlift the supplies. WFP has received only US $7.3 million out of a total of US $58.8 million requested under the UN Inter-agency Consolidated Appeal for Sudan, launched in February, which seeks a total of US $109 million to meet the emergency needs of more than four million drought and war affected Sudanese.

ANGOLA: UNITA radio ceases broadcasts

UNITA said on Thursday its radio, Voice of the Resistance of the Black Cockerel, had ceased broadcasting in compliance with the 1994 Lusaka peace accords. The shortwave radio had been based in the UNITA stronghold of Jamba. UNITA will now broadcast on FM in the capital Luanda. The new radio, to be known as Radio Despertar (Wake-up), will be non-partisan, UNITA said, according to AFP.

KENYA: Wajir suffers from malaria epidemic, malnutrition - MSF

According to MSF Belgium, Wajir town, in Kenya's Northeastern province, suffers from high levels of malnutrition, and is emerging from a very severe malaria epidemic. Results of a survey conducted last month indicate malnutrition levels of 25.3 percent moderate and 3.7 percent severe. In addition, MSF told IRIN, estimates that around 1,800 people died of malaria in a six week period from the end of Ramadhan. The figures represent a crude mortality rate of nine per 10,000 per day. The US-based Centers for Disease Control regards a crude mortality rate of just two per 10,000 per day as "an emergency out of control".

Nairobi, 10 April 1998, 0730 GMT


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Message-Id: <> Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1998 10:28:55 +0300 From: UN IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 15-98 3-9 Apr 98.4.10

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

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