DRC Monthly Humanitarian Bulletin, 18 Aug - 15 Sep 1999

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 15 Sep 1999


Kinshasa, DRC - 15 September 99
Context

RCD rebels signed the Lusaka cease-fire agreement on 31 August 1999 in the Zambian capital, thus joining the state parties to the conflict and MLC which endorsed the peace deal on 10 July and on 1 August 1999. The signature of the agreement by RCD vying factions became possible under a compromise formula negotiated by South Africa earlier in August. The signing of the Lusaka agreement by RCD rebels is seen as a breakthrough in a climate where there has been considerable ground for scepticism about the chances for peace. Key issues, such as the representation of RCD in the Joint Military Commission and other bodies instituted by the accord, revival of the intra-Congolese dialogue and reconciliation and the modalities of implementation of the peace deal remained to be decided in days that followed. The following is a concise chronology of the main developments that had humanitarian ramifications.

31/8 The UN Secretary General welcomed the signing of the cease-fire agreement and expressed a hope that its timely implementation would facilitate the long-awaited international support towards national recovery. SG also appealed to the donor community to contribute to the UN short-term emergency humanitarian programme in the DRC.

1/9 Within hours following the RCD signatures, disagreements arose between the Goma and Kisangani factions, with both insisting on representation in the JMC. The Lusaka agreement allowed for each signatory - then envisaged to be the states involved plus two rebel groups, the RCD and MLC- to nominate two members each to the JMC, but the compromise by which all 50 RCD founding members signed for the movement deferred consideration of JMC’s make-up.

2/9 Two days after the signing of the agreement the Lusaka peace talks mediators attempted to resolve the tenacious points over the RCD representation in JMC and the Political Committee set forth by the agreement. A new deadlock emerged among RCD factions that prevented the two organs from starting their work.

3/9 Rwandan Government re-confirmed its commitment to Lusaka agreement and announced that its troops will remain at a standstill until the UN peacekeeping force is deployed. The Rwandan authorities announced disarmament and neutralisation of the 1994 Rwandan genocide perpetrators as prerequisites for complete withdrawal of its forces.

4-6/9 Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers start withdrawing from Kisangani in the direction of Bafwasende. The movement of troops from Kisangani was a mere redeployment within the DRC as acknowledged by commandments of both forces.

7/9 JMC held its first session in Lusaka and was attended by representatives of all parties involved in the conflict, including the two rival factions of RCD (two representatives from each group).

A decree issued by the DRC President introduced a major reshuffling in the commandments of the DRC armed forces (FAC) whereby Sylvestre Lwecha was appointed Chief of Staff of FAC, and Joseph Kabila (president’s son) Chief of Armed Force. In the reshuffle Kabila named 5 major generals, 12 brigadier-generals, 16 colonels, 12 lieutenant colonels and 5 majors. A number of these newly promoted military, including Lwecha, are allegedly linked with or are Mayi-Mayi insurgents. RCD Goma qualified the new appointments as an attempt by the Kinshasa regime to legitimise Mayi-Mayi insurgents as heads of the armed forces so that JMC does not consider them to be part of renegade forces to be disarmed and neutralised. Subsequently, Bizima Karaha, who was designated by RCD Goma to represent it in the ministerial-level political committee established by the Lusaka agreement called upon President Kabila to remove the newly appointed commanders of CAF or otherwise he threatened to disarm them. Designation of Karaha to represent RCD in the Political Committee, on the other hand, is seen in Kinshasa as a victory of hard-liner pro-Rwandan branch of RCD.

8/9 During his stay in Moncton, Canada for the eigth Francophone summit President Kabila stated that only elections would determine the next president of the DRC.

9-11/9 The UN conducted an induction training course for 21 UN Military Liaison Officers (MLOs) to be immediately deployed to the UN Observer Mission in the DRC (MONUC). The course and subsequent deployment of the MLOs represents the initial commitment of the UN and international community to support the implementation of the Lusaka cease-fire agreement and UN Security Council Resolution 1258.

12-15/9 The pro-Ugandan branch of RCD announced its decision to establish its headquarters in Bunia, the capital of the Kibali-Ituri province unilaterally created by RCD Kisangani earlier in June 1999. Meanwhile a significant concentration of Rwandan forces is being observed in South Kivu. The redeployment of foreign troops and military build-up in the Kivus is occurring in the climate of worsening security situation marked by numerous raids, intra-RCD, RCD-insurgent clashes and banditry.

Local observers in Kinshasa believe that the dislocation of Ugandan troops in Orientale and the earlier announced intention of Rwanda to establish special "bilateral relations" with South Kivu could lead to a further fragmentation and a de facto partition of the DRC with each army occupying a sector of the DRC. It is also feared that if Ugandan troops remain in the north, Rwanda may be tempted to concentrate its efforts on Mbuji-Mayi.

Economy

Although welcomed by the Congolese society at large, the signing of Lusaka agreement did not result in recovery trends in the domestic economy.

Isolated from the rest of the country and relatively well integrated into the economy of the Great Lakes region, the Kivus and Orientale have avoided the hyperinflation and economic collapse that has ravaged western DRC. The limited amount of currency in circulation (Congolese Francs supplied from Kinshasa) and easy circulation of hard and regional currencies (Ugandan Shilling); hampered food export capacity of Kivu farmers and tight fiscal measures introduced by RCD authorities, are factors that have contributed to this relative stability. Apparently the Great Lakes economic dynamics with a "booming" Rwandan economy and its increasing demand for Kivu farm produce have contributed to the creation of a self-contained micro-climate in the RCD controlled regions. In 13 months of the Congolese crisis the RCD controlled economic space did not experience dramatic inflation or depreciation of currency. Further, the private sector of the economy which never ceased to operate on both sides of the frontline began to drain cash (Congolese francs) into the east from Kinshasa, thus taking advantage of large difference between the foreign exchange rates in Kinshasa and Goma (100-150%). The accelerated inflow of CF into the east and resumption of transactions between the two "monetary zones" is expected to reduce the disparity in foreign exchange and inflation rates in the aftermath of the Lusaka agreement. The rapprochement of the two economies may undermine the stability in the Kivus in the short run but at the same time may hinder the inflation in the west, most notably in the food market.



The progress on the diplomatic front enabled the DRC Government to pay greater attention to its salary arrears, primarily to the civil servants. In mid September the DRC Government approved a new salary scale and paid a considerable number of civil servants and military, for which the Central Bank had to resort to the printing of large numbers of 20 franc notes, which in turn boosted the devaluation of the FC by over 20 percent. The unpaid salaries are increasingly becoming a serious source of instability in Kinshasa that is reflected in the number and frequency of strikes, some of which were contained by armed forces.

Facing uncontrollable price rises, both RCD authorities and the DRC Government attempted to contain the devaluation. While the authorities in Goma and Bukavu opted for "persuasion" of businesses in order to abate inflationary trends, the Central Bank of the DRC introduced new restrictions that are being enforced by police forces. The Central Bank’s non-fiscal measures have already started paying off and the foreign exchange rate is gradually returning to the end of August level. The overall price level skyrocketed: prices in Congolese Francs do not reflect forex fluctuations. They have and do remain fixed at the levels reached at the peak of exchange rates. As such, between the 13th and 15th September 1999, a 25-30% inflation was observed at Kinshasa market.

Dialogue between the DRC Government and the World Bank is expected to resume shortly as a result of an official mission of the DRC Finance Minister to Washington. It is also expected that the DRC authorities will attempt to revive the Friends of Congo- WB Trust Fund process to obtain funding for humanitarian and social programmes (including demobilisation).

Humanitarian Action and Principles

Access to War-Affected Populations:

Relief agencies continued to enjoy greater accessibility to war-affected populations. DRC authorities facilitated humanitarian missions to RCD besieged town of Kabinda in Eastern Kasai (WFP and French Co-operation) and Pweto in Katanga (MSF and Caritas). The geography of humanitarian missions expanded in rebel controlled areas as well, most notably in Equateur, where NID follow-ups were conducted by UNICEF and WHO. The security situation in eastern Orientale permitted MSF to assess the situation and assist populations affected by serious inter-ethnic clashes between agricultural and pastoral groups. The remaining pockets of inaccessibility are primarily defined by insurgency and counter-insurgency in the Kivus, insecurity in Northern Katanga, uncertain military situation in central Equateur and logistical and security problems in Maniema.

Protection Of Civilians In Armed Conflicts The military situation from 31 August and onwards has been stable. Only two alleged cases of violation by the DRC forces of the cease-fire agreement were reported in Kote (Eastern Kasai) and Bokungu (Equateur). In spite of a relative stalemate, the civilian population of the areas situated in proximity of the frontline is continuously subjected to violence, extortion, and allegedly, mass killings. Patterns of violence varied and included:

  • the "insurgency - counter-insurgency - massacres" scheme- in the civil strife troubled Mwenga zone of South Kivu (Kasika) where in response to a Mayi-Mayi raid the RCD troops allegedly attacked all the residential areas along Vilalombili - Kakulu axis and massacred several dozen civilians on 4 September 1999. Population of the area has reportedly fled the zone.
  • looting by retreating RCD soldiers in Orientale province- (Opala and Ubundu) and in Kiliba zone of South Kivu.
  • and assailant raids on civilians- Interahamwe activity is reportedly intense in Bunyakiri and Walungu zone of South Kivu where a number of returnee villages was attacked at the end of August 1999. Ninety women were reportedly abducted by assailants.

Minorities at Risk- 370 individuals of Tutsi origin were airlifted from the "protective custody" centre in Kinshasa to Cotonou (Benin) by IOM on 30 and 31 August. Of these 370 people 79 will shortly proceed to Belgium and another 30 Burundian nationals will be given refugee status and taken care of by UNHCR/Benin. Subsequent to the first evacuation exercise, the influx of ethnic Tutsi to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from places of their hiding in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi considerably increased. On average 50-60 persons a day arrived to HCHR office or to the Ministry for Human Rights. As of 15 September some 500 newly identified Congolese Tutsi and Rwandan nationals have been registered by the HCHR office in Kinshasa. The new arrivals are being accommodated at the INSS site in Kinshasa. IOM advance team in Lubumbashi is preparing an identical exercise.

Human Rights. Intimidation of human rights and political activists have been observed both in the Government and RCD held areas. South Kivu has seen the arrest of several human rights activists including the Co-ordinator of the major local NGO and a local radio station, Radio Maendeleo. Both have since been released. Arrests and intimidation of those suspected of sympathy with pro-Ugandan branch of RCD by security services were observed in Kisangani.

Similar measures were taken by security forces in Kinshasa. Several outspoken journalists and prominent political personalities who called for democratisation of the DRC, as stipulated in the Lusaka agreement, were subjected to temporary arbitrary detentions.

Cross Frontline Operations: A new UN direct cross frontline humanitarian flight between Kinshasa and Goma left the DRC capital on the eve of the signing of the Lusaka agreement and carried supplies for the second round of polio vaccination in RCD held provinces. On its return flight to Kinshasa, the UN plane carried North and South Kivu education authorities and boxes of examination scripts for the 1998 state exams in these provinces. In July 1998 the students of secondary and high schools in the eastern provinces completed their state exams, the correction of which is done in Kinshasa. Because of the war the scripts remained uncorrected in the RCD held east and thousands of students could not obtain their marks and qualifications. This UN sponsored operation allowed to reduce serious social tensions created by this outstanding problem in Goma and Bukavu.

Population Movement, Overview by Province

- The reporting period was characterised by a relative stabilisation in population movements. While no massive internal displacements were reported, the cross-border movement of civilians continued, both to the DRC and from the DRC. Greater accessibility to displaced persons in and around the frontline resulted in further adjustment of IDP numbers and mapping of their location.

- The difficult military situation in northern Angola continued to generate refugee influxes into Bas Congo province. The arrival of Congolese refugees to Bas Congo province dramatically diminished. Close to 40,000 ROC refugees have already returned to Brazzaville with the assistance of UNHCR. Repatriation of remnants of the 1994-96 Rwandan Hutu refugee caseload continued. The figures put forward by Rwandan authorities suggest that some 24,000 Hutu refugees have returned since January 1999

- Compared with previous months, the number of Congolese seeking refuge in the neighbouring countries significantly diminished. No new arrivals of DRC refugees were registered in Zambia and Central African Republic.

Katanga The groups of internally displaced persons identified in Northern Katanga in August remain stable. The movement of displaced towards Lubumbashi continued but in a manageable fashion. Over 54,000 vulnerable IDPs remained fully accessible but unassisted; with the exception of Dubie and Pweto areas where MSF/Belgium was allowed to conduct a medical screening and furnish the local health institutions with medicines. The displaced on the Dubie-Pweto axis will shortly benefit from a non-food item distribution (UN Humanitarian Co-ordination) and food assistance (Italian Cooperation/Governor’s office). The dispersed population of Manono zone currently in Katchambuyu, Panda-Kuboko, Muyumba, Kamina-Lenge Kakamba and Katengo remained inaccessible. Office of the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator is soon to field a new mission to the area and start preparations for establishment of the a UN Humanitarian Office in Lubumbashi. IDP figures remained unchanged- 190,000 people.

Orientale - The situation in eastern Orientale allowed UNHCR, ICRC and MSF/H to conduct a damage assessment of several zones of the province affected by inter-ethnic clashes (between Lendu and Hema tribes) ethnic clashes. Some 45,000 persons are said to have fled the hostilities that resulted in a heavy death toll (over 3,500 killed). The displaced are scattered in Drodro, Djigu, Fataki and Rethy and are in dire need of food and medical assistance. MSF/H is providing emergency medical support. Intensified troop movement in western and southern regions of the province (Opala) is thought to have hampered the return movement of IDPs. It is estimated that in the second half of August additional groups of civilians fled harassment by various retreating military. The estimated number of IDPs in Orientale increased by 10,000 and is believed to be reaching 90,000. Improved accessibility in northern Orientale permitted a more comprehensive assessment of Sudanese refugees in numeric terms and identification of their needs. It is estimated that the number of Sudanese might have considerably increased during July-August 1999. UNHCR and the Office of the UN HC are to shortly organise an assessment mission in several zones of Orientale affected by refugee and IDP movements.

North Kivu: An IDP registration/verification project co-sponsored by the UN (WFP) and local authorities is underway. The objective of this exercise is to distinguish persons displaced since the onset of the war from IDPs who have been "on the move" since 1993 so that appropriate assistance can be given. The result of this scrutiny for Goma town revealed that only 1,400 persons out 30,000 registered IDPs are newly displaced and require urgent assistance. Meanwhile, the estimates of IDPs in North Kivu remain largely speculative and vary from 161,000 to 290,000. Until the completion of the assessment a figure of 161,000 (WFP assessment, March 1999) is maintained for planning purposes. Identification and repatriation of Rwandan refugees (1994 caseload) continued over the last month. HCR estimates that there are still some 10,000 Rwandan Hutu refugees still present in the province.

South Kivu Recurrent hostilities due primarily to insurgency and ruthless counter-insurgency considerably increased population movements in the province and undermined the return/settlement trends that had started in June-August. Once again significant groups of the population, primarily residents of coastal villages and Moyen Plateau are on the move and the return in Shabunda zone significantly slowed down. Local sources suggest that IDP numbers increased over the last month and are currently reaching 260,000 persons. The UN Humanitarian Office, Bukavu is to update the result of an assessment mission conducted by WFP in June. Until then the conservative figure of 195,000 is retained. Cross border movement from South Kivu to Tanzania continued thus bringing the total number of DRC (South Kivu) refugees in Kigoma to 119,000 persons. Many of the estimated 10,000 displaced in and around Bukavu town express a wish to return to their homes. A small return initiative is being co-ordinated by the humanitarian community but is severely hampered by lack of resources.

Eastern Kasai A joint WFP/French Co-operation mission to the rebel besieged town of Kabinda identified some 20,000 IDPs that fled war zones earlier in June 1999. The food situation of this group and that of the city’s population was found to be alarming. An airlift of approx. 50 tons of food to Kabinda (French and Italian Coop. & WFP) is expected shortly. The planning figure of 60,000 IDPs in this province includes the population of Lubao and its vicinity that fled westwards in the early 1999 but are still inaccessible.

Summary

The movement of populations in the post Lusaka DRC was characterised by a relative stability, but was still considerable. The numbers of affected populations in the DRC in August-September, as illustrated on the accompanying graph, is attributable to a number of factors. The static segment of the curve representing the displaced populations reflects no major known displacements between August and mid-September. The upward curve representing the movement of Congolese into countries of asylum includes the incremental outflow of South Kivu’s population into Tanzania. The downward sloping curve representing refugees in the DRC is a result of progressive return of Congolese and repatriation of Rwandan refugees.



Refugees in DRC
Country of Origin
Number
Angola incl. Cabinda
157,000
Republic of Congo
20,000
Burundi
20,000
Uganda
2,300
Sudan
61,000
Rwanda
10,000
TOTAL
270,300
Estimated number of IDPs
DRC refugees in region
Katanga- 185,000
Eastern Kasai- 60,000
Equateur- 126,000
Maniema- 20,000
North Kivu- 160,000
Orientale- 80,000
South Kivu- 195,000
Tanzania - 100,000
Zambia - 27,000
Rwanda- 31,000
CAR- 20,000
Total IDPs 836,000
Total DRC Ref. 178,000
Food Security

A 20 percent inflation of food prices was observed in Kinshasa at the end of August compared with levels for the previous month. The global food deficit is still estimated to be 30-40 percent. The situation is relatively stable in Lubumbashi, where the regularised commercial exchanges with Zambia are said to have balanced the supply-demand equilibrium.

As a result of intensive and continued population movement, high insecurity and military activity compounded with drought the food security situation has significantly deteriorated in South Kivu province over the last two months. FAO estimates that some 125,000 families will not be able to cultivate during the coming planting season (end of September 99- mid-January 2000). If interventions are not carried out immediately the missed planting season will result in a large food deficit, estimated at 30,000 tons by the beginning of February 2000. The UN Humanitarian Office in South Kivu estimates that food shortages will directly affect some 800,000 persons at risk or 30% of the province’s population, of whom 200,000 are displaced, 184,000 have just returned to their home communities and 250,000 persons having malnourished members in their families.

Clashes between pro-Ugandan and pro-Rwandan factions of RCD at the end of August 1999 caused an interruption to the flow of food and other essential items into Kisangani. Since the onset of the war the local market has been supplied from Uganda by air in the absence of navigation on the Congo River. The third largest city of the DRC is once again isolated from the main food producing regions. According to MSF/Holland which currently supports four feeding centres infant malnutrition is increasing. In spite of high recovery rates (90%) the number of patients of therapeutic (759) and supplementary (962) feeding centres continues to be invariably high.

Currently food assistance is being provided only to some 684 malnourished children in Bukavu, 1,230 vulnerable IDPs in Goma and 1,200 IDPs in Kinshasa and 20,000 Angolan refugees (all WFP).

The Italian Co-operation donated 8,000 tons of rice and beans to the Congolese government; this is to be partially monetised (at "social" prices), distributed to the most vulnerable and displaced and distributed through Food for Work scheme in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. The food aid will be entirely managed by the DRC authorities.

Health

National Immunisation Days (NID)

The results of the first round of the polio eradication campaign in the DRC were finalised in the course of follow-up impact assessment missions carried out by joint UN/Authorities teams in an extensive number of regions. Through evaluation exercises some 39 health zones uncovered by the first phase were identified. From a total of 10,380,000 children under five targeted for NIDs, 6,724,524 (or 64.8%) were vaccinated. The second phase of NIDs is scheduled on 17-19 September and it is planned that health zones that remained out of first phase’s scope will be reached this time. The second round of vaccination will be launched on17 September by president Kabila and UNICEF Director Carole Belamy in Lubumbashi.

Analysis of first results reveals that logistical constraints were as serious as those of security. The coverage rates varied significantly not only in the RCD and MLC controlled area but also in relatively stable provinces such as Bandundu. WHO and the Ministry of Heath released the following NID coverage breakdown by province: Bandundu - 57.7%; Bas Congo- 103.5%; Equateur- 13.3%; Eastern Kasai- 80.8%; Western Kasai- 83.5%; Katanga-53.4%; Kinshasa- 102.9%; Maniema-0%; North Kivu-85.4%; Orientale-46.8%; South Kivu-72.3%.



UN Special Rapporteur’s Visit to the DRC

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the DRC, Roberto Garreton, conducted his second visit since the beginning of 1999 (first visit- 23-25 February 1999). As opposed to his first visit, Mr. Garreton was received by President Kabila, President of the Court of Military Order, the Prosecutor General of the DRC and the Chairman of the National Debate Committee. Subsequently, the UN Special Rapporteur had discussions with various political personalities including opposition leaders (UDPS, PDSC, MPR, FONUS, FSD, USC). The second part of Special Rapporteur’s visit was dedicated to eastern DRC (Goma and Bukavu) and Uganda. In Kampala Mr. Garreton met with several Congolese human rights activists in exile who fled political persecutions in the Kivus.

United Nations
Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Office of the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for
the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Field Co-ordination Unit (OCHA/ UNDP)

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.