IRIN Weekly Round-up 33-98 7-13

IRIN Weekly Round-up 33-98 7-13

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 33-98 covering the period 7-13 Aug 1998

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebellion gains momentum

Congolese rebels on Wednesday seized the northeastern town of Bunia on the Uganda border as the rebellion gathered momentum. Sources in touch with Bunia told IRIN the town was taken with the help of two tanks. Its capture follows the rebels' seizure of Beni at the weekend. Sources in Uvira on Thursday described the rebel-held town as calm. There has been no fighting there since Sunday, when a counter-attack by pro-government troops arriving from Kalemie by boat, was allegedly repelled. The western towns of Muanda and Boma and the Banana naval base are firmly under rebel control. Sources in the area told IRIN the soldiers appeared to be Rwandans.

The rebellion, whose name according to Reuters was given as the Congolese Movement for Democracy, is comprised of 19 battalions amounting to about 15,000 men, rebel commander Sylvain Mbuki told journalists in Goma on Wednesday. Kinshasa has accused Rwanda and Uganda of military intervention in support of the rebels, an allegation flatly denied by both countries. Last Friday, Burundi refuted reports circulating in Bujumbura that Burundian troops had crossed into Uvira.

Meanwhile, hate radio broadcasts re-emerged in the northeast region. Unlike former hate radio stations, these broadcasts are being made over government radio. Radio Television Nationale Congolaise in Bunia on Saturday ordered Congolese people to arm themselves with "a machete, spear, arrow, hoe, spades, rakes, nails, truncheons, irons, barbed wire, stones and the like" to "kill the Rwandan Tutsis" in Ituri district.

Regional mediation effort takes off

President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday met the foreign ministers of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Namibia visiting Uganda as part of a regional DRC peace mission. Museveni's spokeswoman Hope Kivengere told IRIN the details of the talks were confidential, so as not to prejudice the team's next round of discussions in Rwanda and DRC. She however said she hoped the talks would allay Kinshasa's "suspicions" of Uganda's involvement in the rebellion. The four ministers are part of a fact-finding committee set up at a summit of seven regional leaders last weekend in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe wants OAU and UN to punish destabalisation

The OAU and the UN will be called on to "punish" countries discovered to be involved in the destabilisation of the DRC, Zimbabwe's official 'Herald' newspaper said last Sunday, quoting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. At a rally celebrating Zimbabwe's armed forces day on Wednesday, Mugabe said Zimbabwe was prepared to undertake missions in the region to preserve peace and stability, AFP reported.

KENYA/TANZANIA: Car bombs rock capitals

Two huge car bombs rocked the capitals of Kenya and Tanzania last Friday. Aimed at the US embassies, the explosions killed more than 260 people and injured thousands. The Israeli-led rescue effort to reach people trapped in the rubble of the Cooperative House building which took the brunt of the blast in Nairobi ended on Thursday. The government is preparing an assessment of the damage cause by the city centre bomb and has appealed for international assistance. The US government described the twin blasts - which went off within minutes of each other - as terrorism and dispatched FBI investigators to both countries.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the explosions. In Tanzania, 14 people have been detained, among them six Sudanese nationals and six Iraqis. In Nairobi, five people are being interrogated by the FBI and local CID. The international community has expressed its condemnation of the bombings and opposition to terrorism.

RWANDA: 15,000 displaced by recent fighting

Military operations in northwest Rwanda have created 15,000 new displaced,

WFP reports. The displaced are fleeing towards Ruhengeri prefecture and are staying in Nyamutera commune.

Meanwhile, Hutu rebels killed 27 people and injured eight in two weekend attacks in northwestern Rwanda, the private Rwanda News Agency reported. Eleven people died and seven were wounded in a pre-dawn raid on Saturday on Kanama commune, 20 km east of Gisenyi. AFP said the scene of the attack was a displaced persons' camp. On Sunday, rebels killed 16 people in Mutura commune. Six of the dead were found burnt in their homes, military sources told the Rwanda News Agency.

UGANDA: Extensive flood damage reported

Humanitarian sources report that heavy rains in the Lake Victoria Basin over the past two months have caused extensive flooding with at least 20,000 people affected in Lira district, and possibly the same number in Apac. Homes have been swamped, feeder roads submerged "and its getting worse," a senior aid official told IRIN. The volume of water flowing through the Owen Falls Dam was last week double its normal rate. "Floating islands" of water hyacinth and soil churned up by the flood waters have clogged Lakes Kyoga and Kwania, blocking the free flow of water along the Nile. All districts touching the two lakes have been affected, sources say. The government is reportedly considering blowing up the islands.

SUDAN: New round of peace talks in Nairobi

An Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) communique on last Friday's week's failed Sudan peace talks said both sides have agreed to a further round of negotiations within six months, to be held in Nairobi. The three-day talks floundered on the key issues of state and religion and the definition of the south. Meanwhile, Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang arrived in Cairo on Sunday to meet with top Egyptian officials and Sudanese opposition groups, AFP reported.

Thunderstorms disrupt relief effort

Tropical thunderstorms have disrupted food air drops into famine-hit south Sudan, WFP reported. "Every day we try to increase the number of flights into southern Sudan," WFP's regional manager Mike Sackett said. "But these constant weather problems are hampering our success and our fear is that continued cancellations could cost lives.."

ICRC calls for greater relief effort

ICRC has called for aid agencies to take advantage of Sudan's ceasefire to step up their efforts to reach the starving. "Lots of food is arriving, but there has to be more and the problem in future is to make sure it gets to the people who need it," AFP reported an ICRC official as saying in London.

He said the ICRC could not confirm or deny reports from NGOs and donor countries that up to 60 percent of food aid is being stolen by government troops or rebel forces. "But (the allegations) should be taken seriously." A humanitarian source told IRIN that food diversion "is not the most serious problem" but one of a set of factors complicating food delivery in the south.

BURUNDI: 30,000 displaced in rebel attacks

Over 30,000 people have been displaced by recent rebel attacks in Kayanza province, humanitarian sources report. The attacks, which took place late last month between the RN1 and RN15 highways east and southeast of Kayanza town, were carried out by large and well-organised groups of uniformed rebels. Local government sources claim that ex-FAR were involved. Some of the displaced were returned to Kayanza last weekend. Currently NGOs and UN agencies do not have access to the area making it difficult to assess conditions.

Food production forecast to rise

Food production in Burundi is expected to be 15 percent higher than last year, according to the latest UN assessment. Total output, according to a FAO report on the crop and food supply situation, is equivalent to "pre-crisis" levels. However, production is insufficient to meet domestic needs, and FAO says 111,000 mt may need to be imported in 1998. Of that, about 61,000 should be met by food aid, FAO estimates.

Nairobi, 14 August 1998 11.00 gmt


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From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> Subject: Central and Eastern Africa: IRIN Weekly Round-up 33-98 7-13 p://

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

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