More than half-million newly uprooted people in Central Africa and Horn of Africa in 2001

Report
from US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Published on 02 Oct 2001


More than a half-million people fled their homes because of violence during the first nine months of 2001 in Central Africa and the Horn of Africa, according to analysis by the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR).
An estimated quarter-million people have become newly uprooted so far this year in Congo-Kinshasa, according to field reports by international relief agencies.  Some 150,000 or more people fled their homes in Sudan during January to September.  An estimated 100,000 people in Burundi have become newly displaced or new refugees.  Violence in Central African Republic and Somalia has forced 60,000 and 15,000 people to flee in those countries, respectively.

Approximately 9 million people were already refugees or internally displaced in Central Africa and the Horn of Africa before 2001.  Events during the first three-quarters of 2001 have added 570,000 newly uprooted people in those troubled regions of a troubled continent.

"Peace has not yet become the norm in much of Central and East Africa," said Jeff Drumtra, senior Africa policy analyst for USCR.  "War, civil violence, and fear still dominate the lives of too many people, whose only recourse is to leave everything behind and flee.  International diplomats like to boast that peace negotiations are progressing in Congo-Kinshasa, Sudan, and Burundi, but for too many families there the terror and daily misery have not changed a bit."

This year's massive population upheavals in Africa have been relatively ignored by the international media and most world leaders.

"The international community at this moment is fixated on the possibility that hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan might flee their homes in coming weeks.  It is a legitimate concern.  But more than a half-million people have already fled their homes in Central Africa and the Horn of Africa in recent months because of wars that are already happening.  A vast number of these uprooted people in Africa receive virtually no humanitarian assistance, or they have experienced cutbacks this year in the modest amounts of relief aid that reaches them," Drumtra said.

Aid to uprooted populations in Africa and elsewhere has suffered cutbacks in recent years.  The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, for example, has received only about $600 million of the $874 million it requires this year to assist refugees worldwide even before the heightened concerns about Afghanistan.  The budget proposed by the Bush Administration for FY 2002--still under consideration in Congress--would cut U.S. funding for overseas refugee assistance by $5 million.

Following is a review by USCR of political and humanitarian events during the first nine months of 2001 in seven "hot spots" in Central Africa and the Horn of Africa:

1--Burundi

2--Central African Republic

3--Congo-Brazzaville

4--Congo-Kinshasa

5--Somalia

6--Sudan

7--Uganda.

BURUNDI UPDATE:  FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2001

(Updated by USCR October, 2001)

Background

A civil war that began in the early-1990s has intensified in recent years, leaving more than 100,000 Burundians dead.  Ethnic Hutu rebels continue to fight against the country's ethnic Tutsi-dominated government and military.  Former South African President Nelson Mandela has attempted to mediate negotiations for peace.

At the beginning of 2001, more than a million Burundians were uprooted from their homes, including 400,000 Burundian refugees in neighboring countries and an estimated 600,000 internally displaced persons.

Political / Military / Human Rights Developments through September

Mandela announced in July that peace negotiations had produced agreement on a three-year transitional government in which Tutsi and Hutu leaders would share power beginning in November.  Two main Hutu rebel groups did not participate in the agreement and vowed to continue fighting.  Numerous Tutsi and Hutu political leaders criticized the accord, leaving many Burundians and international diplomats to doubt the depth of support for the agreement.  Several African countries, including Nigeria and South Africa, indicated a willingness to deploy peacekeeping troops to Burundi to help bolster the accord.  Burundian officials debated how best to protect politicians returning from exile to participate in the transitional government.

Rebel attacks and ambushes gained strength during the first nine months of the year, particularly in southern, eastern, central, and western areas of Burundi.  Rebels launched a strong attack on the outskirts of the capital, Bujumbura, in February.  A rebel raid on the outskirts of the capital killed 12 government soldiers in September.  A grenade attack in Bujumbura that same month killed four persons.  Insurgent forces continued to attack near the country's third largest town, Rumonge, in the south.  Banditry reportedly increased in Bujumbura, allegedly linked to discharged government soldiers.

Analysts expressed concern that a peace accord in neighboring Congo-Kinshasa was inadvertently pushing Burundian rebels from their bases in Congo-Kinshasa and into Burundi.  The Burundian government continued to charge that Burundian rebels were using refugee camps in Tanzania as military bases, creating tensions between the two governments.  Burundi's president warned of an "almost open state of war" along the Burundi-Tanzania border.  A UN Security Council team lamented the "complexity and intractability" of the Burundian conflict.

New Uprooted Populations through September

An estimated 100,000 or more Burundians newly fled their homes during the first three-quarters of 2001.

Some 50,000 or more persons--primarily ethnic Hutu--temporarily fled when rebels attacked their neighborhood on the outskirts of Bujumbura in February.  Some found shelter at designated sites in the capital, while others moved in with friends and family.  Most families returned to their homes after several days or weeks.

Some 30,000 to 40,000 people reportedly fled clashes between rebels and government troops in the country's central provinces in April.  About 15,000 residents of southeastern Burundi also fled their homes during the first three-quarters of the year, according to reports.  Thousands of other new population displacements probably occurred but remained uncounted.

Humanitarian Conditions through September

General humanitarian conditions remained bad during the first nine months of 2001.  Economic conditions in the capital continued to deteriorate, fueling increased crime.  In rural areas, local harvests were as small as 5 percent of pre-war levels because of poor rains, population displacement, and insecurity.

Burundi faced an expected cereal food deficit of 178,000 tons for the year.  Malnutrition increased in at least two provinces.  Child death rates climbed to five deaths per day per 10,000 children in a northern province where food shortages were particularly acute.  The number of children enrolled in supplementary and therapeutic feeding centers nationwide more than doubled from late 2000 to March 2001.  Deliveries of international food aid to Burundian refugees in neighboring Tanzania declined by 20 percent.

UN humanitarian agencies appealed to international donors for $102 million to assist Burundians in 2001.  Only about $16 million had been donated by May.  The funding shortfall, combined with security problems, left "urgent" needs unaddressed for health care, drinking water, and nutrition, UN aid officials warned.  Aid agencies had whole or partial access to only 70 percent of the country because of security concerns.  Ambushes left one relief worker dead, four wounded, and nine aid workers taken hostage during April to June.

An estimated 600,000 Burundians were believed to be internally displaced as of September 2001.  This included some 380,000 at 210 displacement sites, plus approximately 200,000 other displaced persons who lived with friends, families, or on their own beyond the reach of aid programs.  "The country is facing one of the most acute problems of population displacement in Africa today," a top UN humanitarian official stated in June.  A Burundian health official expressed concern that crowded displacement camps had become breeding grounds for HIV infections because of rapes and a breakdown of family structures.  The UN Development Program announced a new program in September to build ten schools and provide housing for 700 families in three relatively quiet provinces.

Tanzanian government officials made statements that appeared to threaten a forced repatriation of all Burundian refugees currently in Tanzania.  Tanzanian officials later clarified that they would not force Burundian refugees to repatriate even though they considered the large refugee population to be a burden to Tanzania.

[End Burundi]

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC UPDATE:  FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2001

(Updated by USCR October 1, 2001)

Background

The Central African Republic suffered numerous mutinies by its military in the mid-1990s against the country's democratically elected government.  Rounds of violence displaced tens of thousands of people in the country's capital, Bangui.  UN peacekeeping troops helped restore order and remained in the country until 2000.  The country avoided significant violence or new population displacement during 1998-2000 despite continued political tensions.

At the beginning of 2001, the Central Africa Republic was producing relatively few refugees or internally displaced persons.  The country hosted about 55,000 refugees from neighboring countries.

Political / Military / Human Rights Developments through September

General Andre Kolingba, a former president of the country, launched a surprise coup attempt against democratically elected President Ange-Felix Patasse in May.  Pro-government forces defeated the coup attempt and retaliated against Kolingba's Yakoma ethnic group.  The capital suffered heavy damage and hundreds of deaths in ten days of fighting.  Atrocities and other human rights abuses continued in July before diminishing in August and September.  Armed crime in the capital and on highways increased after the coup attempt because of the proliferation of weapons.

A report by the UN Secretary General characterized the coup attempt as "wholly unexpected" despite severe political and economic tensions preceding the coup effort.  Soldiers involved in the coup attempt fled to neighboring Congo-Kinshasa, where they posed a "legitimate concern" to security in the region, the UN Secretary General warned in September.  The same UN report noted "sharp political tensions, further economic decline, simmering social tension, and a troubling lack of security" in the aftermath of the violence.

New Uprooted Populations through September

An estimated 60,000 to 80,000 residents of Bangui fled their homes during the May coup attempt and subsequent retaliations.  More than half of the displaced population were children under the age of 15, according to government figures.  Most uprooted people fled to the outskirts of the capital, where they sought shelter in local homes and the surrounding forest.  Some 20,000 to 25,000 people fled across the Oubangui River into northwest Congo-Kinshasa, including hundreds of armed participants in the coup attempt.  About 1,000 refugees fled to Congo-Brazzaville.

Authorities of the Central African Republic officially closed their border with Congo-Kinshasa and deployed military patrols along the Oubangui River in an effort to prevent traffic across the border.  As a result, many citizens of Central African Republic were unable to cross the river into Congo-Kinshasa to bring food to relatives who had fled Bangui's violence.

By mid-July, between 10,000 and 40,000 people had returned to their homes even though smaller numbers of residents continued to flee anew because of continued atrocities against the Yakoma population.  Most of those who remained uprooted during August-September were believed to be Yakoma who feared retribution if they returned home.

Ten urban refugees from other countries were killed during the violence in Bangui, causing other urban refugees from Congo-Kinshasa to request removal from Bangui to a refugee camp north of the capital.  The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) moved hundreds of the refugees to Molange camp, which opened in January 2001 to accommodate some 1,600 recently-arrived refugees from Congo-Kinshasa.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees completed the repatriation of refugees from Central African Republic to Chad in February.  Many of the Chadian refugees had lived in Central African Republic for up to 15 years.

Humanitarian Conditions through September

Humanitarian conditions were difficult in many areas of Bangui after the violence.  Additional damage caused by heavy rains and flooding aggravated the situation.  The coup attempt temporarily blocked Bangui's main highway, causing a food shortage.  Many displaced families were exposed to heavy rains before they could find shelter.  Residents of nearby towns and neighborhoods struggled to supply food, drinking water, and medicines to the displaced persons in their midst.  Aid workers expressed concern that crowded conditions might provoke outbreaks of cholera, malaria, or meningitis.  Families that returned home found their houses "looted, burned, or destroyed," according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The 20,000 to 25,000 Bangui residents who fled to Congo-Kinshasa to live as refugees congregated in the Congolese town of Zongo--about a mile from Bangui--where they faced "extremely difficult conditions," UNHCR reported.  Some 15,000 refugees continued to live in Zongo in September, some 10,000 others lived in scattered Congolese villages along the border between the two countries, and 3,000 refugees moved deeper into Congo-Kinshasa, away from the border. UNHCR airlifted 20 tons of plastic sheeting, blankets, and cooking supplies to the refugees in early August.  Relief officials expressed concern about armed elements among the refugee population and searched for ways to transfer the refugees to safer locations farther from the border.

The short but intense violence in Central African Republic "wiped out" economic gains of the past five years, according to the country's prime minister.  The coup attempt and large-scale population upheaval "will without a doubt have catastrophic consequences for an already fragile economy," the UN Secretary General stated in July. "There is no question that it is poverty which...is the breeding ground for the instability experienced by the Central African Republic...."

The government of the Central African Republic requested $95 million in aid for emergency relief, development and rehabilitation projects, and reintegration of uprooted people.  International donor countries responded with only meager funding as of September.  The UN Secretary General reported that government authorities in Central African Republic were "utterly incapable" of alleviating their country's poverty and urged major nations to provide economic experts and government administration experts to help manage the country's affairs.

[End Central African Republic]

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE UPDATE:  FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2001

(Updated by USCR October 1, 2001)

Background

Nearly a decade of politically motivated ethnic violence killed an estimated 20,000 people and displaced as many as 800,000 persons in Congo-Brazzaville during the 1990s.  A 1999 cease-fire returned the country to a tenuous peace and allowed the vast majority of uprooted Congolese to return to their homes.

At the beginning of 2001, about 20,000 Congolese remained refugees in neighboring countries.  Despite its own political and economic problems, Congo-Brazzaville hosted some 120,000 refugees from other African countries, primarily from Congo-Kinshasa and Angola. 

Political / Military / Human Rights Developments through September

Congo-Brazzaville's fragile peace continued to hold during the first nine months of 2001.  "Peace has been restored in villages where war once prevailed," President Sassou-Nguesso stated in September.

The government conducted a "national dialogue" to draft a new constitution.  Groups opposed to the president refused to participate.  The national parliament adopted the new constitution in September.  Citizens are scheduled to vote in a referendum on the new constitution in late 2001.  The government announced plans to form a panel to investigate disappearances that occurred during the violence of the 1990s.  Efforts to clear landmines continued in the capital, Brazzaville.

The country's economically important Congo River reopened to commercial traffic in May after regional violence forced its closure for nearly three years.

New Uprooted Populations through September

Most citizens of Congo-Brazzaville continued the gradual process of reintegration and reconstruction during the first nine months of 2001.  Approximately 150,000 persons remained internally displaced as of July, according to UN estimates.  About 20,000 Congolese refugees remained outside the country despite growing interest in facilitating organized voluntary repatriation for them.

In May 2001, isolated clashes between army soldiers and armed supporters of the exiled former prime minister, Bernard Kolelas, temporarily pushed an estimated 30,000 Congolese from their homes in Mindouli, located south of Brazzaville.  No other significant population upheavals were reported during the January-September period.

Congo-Brazzaville continued to host up to 90,000 refugees from Congo-Kinshasa as of September.  Some refugees reportedly moved to different locations within Congo-Brazzaville in an effort to gain access to humanitarian aid.  Additional influxes of refugees into Congo-Brazzaville did not occur.  The country officially closed its border with neighboring Congo-Kinshasa in April because of concerns about the security situation in Congo-Kinshasa.

Humanitarian Conditions through September

Humanitarian agencies ended most emergency relief programs in early 2001 and switched to rehabilitation and development assistance.  An estimated 150,000 internally displaced Congolese were able to support themselves and no longer required special emergency aid, relief agencies concluded.

Previously uprooted citizens of Congo-Brazzaville struggled to reconstruct their homes, businesses, and the country's social services.  The country's health system remained in ruins--60 percent of all health centers were closed, according to some reports.  Medecins Sans Frontieres reported increased levels of potentially fatal sleeping sickness.  The country's schools--many previously closed during the violence--also struggled to become fully operational in a country with only 10 percent literacy rates.  Forty percent of the country's half-million school-age children did not attend school.

Reconstruction aid from international donors was meager.  UNICEF, for example, received only $1 million in funding through September for programs requiring $4.9 million.  UNICEF repaired and re-equipped 58 health centers and announced plans to repair 20 schools out of 1,700 schools needing of rehabilitation. 

International aid agencies continued their efforts to improve humanitarian access to refugees from Congo-Kinshasa living in remote area of northern Congo-Brazzaville.  The UN High Commissioner for Refugees expanded its fleet of boats in order to increase aid shipments to refugees living along the Congo River, an area without roads.  The UN World Food Program supplied 700 tons of food for refugees and needy local residents in August.

[End Congo-Brazzaville]

CONGO-KINSHASA UPDATE:  FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2001

(Updated by USCR October 1, 2001)

Background

Congo-Kinshasa is often considered to be Africa's most strategically important country because it is geographically the second largest country in Africa, is one of the continent's five largest in population size, borders nine countries, and contains immense deposits of gold, diamonds, and other lucrative natural resources.

Congo-Kinshasa has suffered warfare since 1998, involving armies from eight African countries and at least seven other armed groups.  International observers have characterized the war in Congo as "a continent-wide free-for-all."  Congolese rebels and their allies loosely control one-third to one-half of the country.  The war follows three decades of corrupt mismanagement by former President Mobutu Sese Seko, who was ousted from power in 1997.  Many areas of the immense country have been cut off from outside aid for three years.

At the beginning of 2001, an estimated 2.1 million Congolese were uprooted from their homes, including approximately 1.8 million internally displaced persons and some 350,000 Congolese refugees in other countries.  Some 270,000 refugees from neighboring countries lived in Congo-Kinshasa despite its war.

Political / Military / Human Rights Developments through September

A fragile peace process made progress during the first nine months of 2001.  Congolese President Joseph Kabila, who took power when his father, President Laurent Kabila, was assassinated in January, demonstrated a stronger commitment to the peace process.  Preparations continued throughout August and September for a key meeting of Congolese groups, known as the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, scheduled for mid-October.  "There is clear, visible progress" in the peace process, a UN peacekeeping official stated in September. 

Major armies adhered to a cease-fire in many areas, although increasingly serious violations occurred in September.  Most armies pulled back from frontline positions.  Government armies from Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda partially withdrew troops from Congolese territory but did not comply with UN resolutions calling for their total withdrawal.  Namibia completed the withdrawal of virtually all its troops.  Some 2,300 UN military observers and peacekeeping troops extended their deployment to more than 20 locations to monitor the cease-fire.  Congolese authorities disarmed 3,000 ethnic Hutu Rwandan combatants aligned with the government and turned them over to UN officials.

Despite the official cease-fire, extensive violence by militia and other unofficial armed groups persisted in some regions, particularly in eastern Congo.  Rwandan and Burundian Hutu militia allied with the Congolese government captured the key town of Fizi in eastern Congo's South Kivu Province in September, indicating that large-scale military actions continued in that isolated region.  Military clashes also occurred in September near the city of Kindu, in eastern Congo's Maniema Province.  Infighting between previously allied rebel forces in northeastern Congo caused a steady stream of violence and population displacement.  Human rights abuses were pervasive in some areas, including massacres, assassinations, lynchings, and rapes.

"Even though the war along the conventional frontline has more or less ceased, eastern [Congo] has suffered an increase in violence," a report by Oxfam/Great Britain and other aid agencies noted in August.  A report by the UN Secretary General agreed that "the situation in the eastern provinces remains highly volatile" and charged that continued violence and abuses in eastern Congo's South Kivu Province were part of "deliberate strategies to induce flight."  A report by UN investigators in April accused many participants in the war, including Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi, of looting Congo's natural resources.

New Uprooted Populations through September

Approximately a quarter-million Congolese became newly uprooted between November 2000 and May 2001, UN humanitarian officials estimated.  Most newly uprooted families remained inside Congo-Kinshasa, where they became internally displaced.  Approximately 15,000 new Congolese refugees fled to neighboring Zambia during the first nine months of  2001, including 1,500 in July.  A thousand or more new Congolese refugees fled to neighboring Tanzania in August.

A UN report in September estimated that three years of war had left approximately 2 million persons internally displaced in Congo-Kinshasa, including about a million people in eastern Congo's North Kivu and South Kivu Provinces, which were occupied by indigenous rebel forces as well as troops from Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi.  UN officials estimated in September that 760,000 people were displaced in North Kivu Province, 220,000 in South Kivu Province, 410,000 in southern Congo's Katanga Province, 230,000 in northeastern Congo's Orientale Province, 85,000 in Equateur Province in northwestern Congo, 160,000 in Maniema Province in eastern Congo, 230,000 in Kasai Orientale Province in south-central Congo, and 170,000 in other provinces.  UN estimates suggested that the number of displaced persons increased in six provinces between April and September.  Approximately 330,000 Congolese were refugees in other countries.

By September, Congo-Kinshasa was Africa's second largest source of uprooted people.  About one-sixth of all uprooted people on the continent were Congolese.

Humanitarian Conditions through September

A thorough assessment of humanitarian conditions in Congo-Kinshasa remained difficult because large areas of the country were still inaccessible to regular visits by international relief officials.  Humanitarian agencies had access to less than half of the country's displaced population in August because of security concerns.

A study by the International Rescue Committee concluded in May 2001 that approximately 2.5 million Congolese had died of war-related causes since August 1998.  The study stated that about 85 percent of the deaths were because of disease and malnutrition caused by the war and its destruction of agricultural systems, economic trading, and health centers.

A report in August by three international relief agencies warned that "many Congolese are hovering on the brink between life and death," with "appalling levels of hunger, disease, ...death, and...countless abuses of human rights."  Some 16 million people--one-third of the population--needed substantial food assistance, the report said.  Up to 30 percent of children were severely malnourished at some locations, according to aid workers.  Death rates among children reached 11 per day per 10,000 children in some parts of southern Congo's Katanga province, the UN World Food Program (WFP) reported in September.

Humanitarian agencies gained improved access to populations in government-controlled areas of western Congo and launched an airlift of emergency supplies to displaced persons in southern Congo in June.  The International Committee of the Red Cross began working to provide clean drinking water systems to major urban areas.  UNICEF provided widespread polio vaccinations to children.  The U.S. government supplied $79 million for aid projects in Congo--nearly triple its previous funding.  By September, however, WFP had received only 40 percent of the $112 million needed to deliver food to 1.4 million beneficiaries.

Aid agencies faced serious dangers.  Six staff members of the International Committee for the Red Cross--including two international workers--were killed in an ambush in northeastern Congo in April.  A staff member of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was killed in western Congo-Kinshasa in March.

[End Congo-Kinshasa]

SOMALIA UPDATE:  FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2001

(Updated by USCR October 1, 2001)

Background

Civil war and factional fighting have persisted in much of Somalia since 1988, causing Somalia to produce one of Africa's largest refugee populations during the past decade.  The country lacked a functioning national government during most of the 1990s, creating a situation that many international observers characterized as national anarchy.  Numerous warlords head clan-based factions that compete violently for political and economic control of Somali territory.  Northwest Somalia announced its independence from the rest of the country in 1991 and named itself "Somaliland."  Leaders in northeast Somalia formed an autonomous territory named "Puntland" in 1998.  Neither Somaliland nor Puntland has received international political recognition.

In 2000, a fragile new national government formed in the capital, Mogadishu.  The new governing body, known as the Transitional National Government, immediately encountered armed opposition from local warlords, some of whom continued to control large parts of the capital, Mogadishu, as well as significant territory outside the capital.

At the start of 2001, some 300,000 to 350,000 Somali refugees continued to live in about two-dozen countries of asylum.  An equal number of Somalis remained internally displaced.  Hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees have repatriated since the mid-1990s despite their country's turmoil.

Political / Military / Human Rights Developments through September

Violence worsened in many parts of Somalia during the first nine months of 2001.  The Transitional National Government struggled to exert its authority and ward off attacks by armed factions.  The autonomous region of Puntland suffered an internal power struggle and its worst violence in six years.

Nine persons died in January during an ambush attempt against an official of the national government--one of several armed attacks that targeted government officials.  Clashes between armed factions in Mogadishu left 50 persons dead in May.  A resumption of clan violence killed 17 persons in the capital in a single day in June.  Two days of battles in Mogadishu killed 40 to 70 people in July, according to various reports.  Scores of people died in the capital in September when a discarded anti-aircraft missile exploded.  Outside Mogadishu, nearly 30 died in fighting in May, and battles south of Mogadishu during July to September reportedly killed 200 people and triggered population flight.  Anti-government forces temporarily captured the key southern port city of Kismayo in mid-year.

The UN Security Council stated that "the security situation in Somalia is still a cause for serious concern."  Negotiations between the Transitional National Government and opposing factions in June produced no results.  Neighboring Kenya banned cross-border trading with Somalia in July for the second time in two years, citing security concerns.

Northwest Somalia--Somaliland--remained an area of relative peace, although it, too, suffered isolated political violence and demonstrations in mid-2001.  Residents of Somaliland voted 97 percent in favor of independence and a new constitution in a May referendum.  Somalia's government in Mogadishu called the referendum "illegal."

New Uprooted Populations through September

Recurring armed clashes caused Somali families in central and southern regions to flee their homes during the first nine months of 2001.  Thousands of others left their homes because of crop failures.  Accurate estimates of the country's new population displacement were impossible, however, because general insecurity prevented international aid agencies from functioning in many areas.  Many uprooted southerners have relocated to peaceful regions such as Somaliland.

The largest visible population flow occurred in March, when up to 10,000 Somalis fled into northeast Kenya's Mandera region to escape an outbreak of violence in southwestern Somalia that reportedly left 14 persons dead.  The new refugees received no international aid in Kenya, and most returned to their homes in Somalia by June.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that nearly 30,000 refugees repatriated to Somaliland during the first eight months of 2001.  However, the actual number of returnees was believed to be one-third that number because of massive fraud in Somali refugee camps in neighboring Ethiopia that inflated refugee and repatriation rolls.

Some 130 Somali refugees repatriated from Yemen to Mogadishu by air in April.  Some of the returnees claimed that they were beaten and forced to repatriate involuntarily, but UNHCR found no basis for the allegations.

Humanitarian Conditions through September

Restrictions on humanitarian aid programs forced by years of insecurity continued to hamper thorough assessments of humanitarian conditions in much of Somalia.  Aid agencies cancelled several food assessment missions scheduled in early 2001.  "Humanitarian access in southern Somalia is at its lowest ebb...since 1995," a UN report stated in April.  Nine relief workers in Mogadishu were ambushed and temporarily taken hostage in March after a fierce gunfight.  UN officials evacuated UN international relief staff from the entire country for several days in September because of rising war-risk insurance costs.  UN aid staff began to re-enter the country by the end of the month.

Despite successful harvests during 2000, serious food shortages loomed by mid-2001 because of new crop failures caused by poor rainfall and pest infestations.  The UN World Food Program (WFP) announced an "early warning of a very serious food situation" in June and cited a need for 40,000 tons of food relief for up to a half-million Somalis in August.  Other food analysts reported that half the population in the worst-affected areas would suffer a 40 percent food shortfall.  In Somaliland's main city, Hargeisa, crowded camps for returnees suffered 15 percent child malnutrition rates in August.

More than 100,000 Somali refugees in neighboring Kenya also suffered food shortages because of reduced food donations by international donors.  Somali refugees in Kenya received two-thirds rations and threatened a hunger strike to publicize their plight.  The number of malnourished children in the Kenyan camps doubled during the first half of 2001, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Only 14 percent of Somalia's school-age children attended school, UNICEF reported in July.  The country's annual cholera outbreak afflicted nearly 900 people in the first four months of the year.  The entire country--particularly Somaliland--continued to suffer economic consequences from a ban on Somali cattle imposed last year by Somalia's trading partners in the Persian Gulf, who fear that the cattle are diseased.  Tens of thousands of Somali refugees who have repatriated to Somaliland in recent years continued to struggle to rebuild their lives amid dim economic prospects.  UNHCR and the UN Development Program announced a program in July, the "Reintegration of Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons," which aims to provide water systems, housing, health care, and education to areas with large returnee populations.

Approximately 300,000 refugees remained outside the country as of September 2001, and an estimated 350,000 Somalis remained internally displaced, according to relief workers.

[End Somalia]

SUDAN UPDATE:  FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2001

(updated by USCR October 1, 2001)

Background

Sudan's civil war has endured for 18 years.  Rebel armies in southern Sudan continue to fight against Sudanese government forces and their militia in a bid for political autonomy or independence for southern Sudan.  The long war is complicated by violent military and ethnic divisions among southerners.  Numerous southern commanders have repeatedly changed allegiances during the conflict, and some northern groups opposed to the government have formed a military alliance with southern rebels.  The combination of constant war and periodic droughts has caused serious food shortages.  The government and rebel armies have manipulated massive amounts of international relief aid that flows into the country.

The war has left an estimated 2 million persons dead in southern and central Sudan since 1983.  At the beginning of 2001, approximately 4 million Sudanese were internally displaced, and 420,000 Sudanese were refugees in neighboring countries.  Despite the war, some 360,000 refugees from other countries resided in Sudan.

Political / Military / Human Rights Developments through September

The war persisted during the first nine months of 2001.  Rebels launched a military offensive in the south's Bahr el-Ghazal Province, capturing two towns.  Pro-government militia also launched attacks in Bahr el-Ghazal Province.  Armed clashes continued near oil fields in southern Sudan's Western Upper Nile Province pitting government forces, pro-government militia, rebels, and anti-rebel southern troops against each other.  Splits within the local ethnic Nuer population also fed the violence.

The government continued to extract oil in the war zone, providing the government with substantial new revenue that enabled it to double its military expenditures compared to 1998.  Human rights advocates charged that the government military used airplane runways and roads built by international oil companies to attack the local population.  "Across the oil-rich regions of Sudan, the government is pursuing a 'scorched earth' policy to clear the land of civilians and to make way for the exploration and exploitation of oil by foreign oil companies," a report by a British relief agency, Christian Aid, stated in early 2001.

Government planes continued to bomb civilian and humanitarian sites in southern Sudan, although reportedly less frequently than last year.  Various sources reported that up to 40 aerial bombings occurred during May-July, including attacks against camps for displaced persons.  The Sudanese government announced a bombing cessation on May 24 but proclaimed a bombing resumption on June 11.

The U.S. government continued a thorough review of its policy toward Sudan.  In September, President Bush appointed former U.S. Senator John Danforth as a special envoy to search for peace in Sudan.  "Sudan is a disaster for all human rights.  We must turn the eyes of the world upon the atrocities in Sudan," Bush said.  The Bush Administration stated in April that improved relations with Sudan hinged on an end to the Sudanese government's aerial bombings of civilian targets, fewer restrictions by Sudanese authorities on humanitarian aid deliveries to the south, and elimination of international terrorist organizations based in Sudan.  The U.S. House of Representatives approved the "Sudan Peace Act" in June, which would attempt to bar international oil companies from operating in Sudan.  A Senate version of the bill was still under consideration.  In late September, the UN Security Council lifted sanctions in effect since 1996 against Sudanese diplomats and Sudanese aircraft.

UNICEF stated in February that it was helping to demobilize 2,500 rebel child soldiers.  Some observers criticized UNICEF's handling of the demobilization and expressed skepticism whether some of the children were combatants.

New Uprooted Populations through September

Many of Sudan's 4.4 million uprooted people have fled repeatedly from place to place during the course of the long civil war.  At least 150,000 additional people became uprooted during the first eight months of 2001, according information pieced together from various field reports.

Aid workers reported that 55,000 newly displaced people fled from 48 villages in southern Sudan's conflicted oil zone during 2000 and early 2001.  A rebel military offensive in Bahr el-Ghazal Province in early 2001 pushed 50,000 people from their homes.  Some 40,000 residents of central Sudan's Nuba Mountains region fled government military attacks during the first eight months of the year.  Smaller numbers of people fled their homes temporarily because of aerial bombing attacks.

Humanitarian Conditions through September

"There is perhaps no greater tragedy on the face of the earth today," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell stated at a congressional hearing about Sudan in March.  The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom warned at the same hearing that "the situation in Sudan has grown worse."

The UN World Food Program (WFP) stated that "we have a looming crisis on our hands," with 3 million Sudanese nationwide facing food shortages.  "The food security situation is worsening more quickly than expected," WFP warned.  Humanitarian aid workers expressed concern about potential famine in Western Upper Nile Province of southern Sudan.  The town of Bentiu, a magnet for displaced families in Sudan's oil-producing region, suffered 24 percent malnutrition, according to WFP.  Inadequate distributions of food relief triggered violence among competing populations and competing armies in Western Upper Nile Province, prompting some local leaders there to request that food deliveries be suspended.  Crop failures and livestock deaths in and near the key southern town of Juba might worsen malnutrition among 200,000 local residents, one international relief agency reported in February.  Catholic bishops in southern Sudan urged aid agencies to establish emergency feeding centers in addition to aid drops of food to assist 30,000 newly uprooted people from 17 villages.  WFP reported that it was able to deliver 12,000 tons of food aid during May -- less than half the 28,000 tons needed by local populations.

Funding shortages and security risks continued to impede humanitarian efforts during the first nine months of 2001.  WFP appealed to international donors for $135 million but received only a fraction of that amount.  Sudanese government officials regularly blocked relief assistance to about 15 locations and placed new restrictions on UN humanitarian flights to the village of Mapel, a key staging point for relief flights in the south.  The Sudanese government threatened to place visa restrictions on international aid staff seeking to enter the country.  Some relief workers complained that UN officials were too passive in pushing for humanitarian access to conflict areas in Western Upper Nile Province.

Pro-government combatants in southern Sudan took four aid workers hostage for a week in March.  A pilot for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was killed in May when undisclosed persons fired on his plane, forcing a temporary suspension of all Red Cross flights.  Bombs dropped from a Sudanese military plane nearly hit a food-laden UN relief plane in mid-air in June, forcing cancellation of a food delivery.  ICRC staff evacuated a medical base in January hours before an attack by pro-government militia.  Numerous humanitarian workers temporarily evacuated from the government-controlled town of Wau in mid-year because they feared a rebel attack.

The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development traveled to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to press for improved international access to needy populations and an end to aerial bombings.

[End Sudan]

UGANDA UPDATE:  FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2001

(Updated by USCR October 1, 2001)

Background

Despite relative peace and economic growth in large sections of Uganda, insurgencies and violent communal clashes have plagued three areas of the country for years.  An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people have died in more than a decade of violence.

In northern Uganda, an insurgent force known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and counterinsurgency tactics by the Ugandan government army have forced approximately 400,000 persons from their homes.  In northeastern Uganda, violence clashes over land use and cattle-raiding have displaced up to 80,000 residents in the past two years.  In southwestern Uganda, a rebel force known as the Alliance for Democratic Forces (ADF) has uprooted as many as 100,000 people.

Insurgents have kidnapped thousands of women and children during the past ten years, pressing many of them into service as combatants, servants, and involuntary sexual partners.  Insurgent attacks have killed more than 100 of the 200,000 refugees from Sudan who live in northern Uganda.

Political / Military / Human Rights Developments through September

Attacks by insurgents became less frequent during the first nine months of 2001 but did not disappear completely.  Although some displaced Ugandans cautiously returned to their homes, the vast majority of uprooted people remained uprooted.

The LRA appeared to weaken in early 2001 because of stronger military actions by Ugandan government forces and deteriorating relations between the LRA and its main supporter, the Sudanese government.  Uganda's military crossed into southern Sudan to hunt and attack LRA combatants.  Ugandan officials met with LRA combatants in mid-year to discuss amnesty for the insurgents.

LRA troops--many of them children who were abducted and forced to become combatants--remained capable of launching several deadly raids during mid-2001.  Insurgents ambushed a food convoy of the UN World Food Program (WFP) in May.  An LRA attack in northern Uganda's Gulu District killed four persons in August.  A pair of highway ambushes by the LRA in late August and early September killed 11 people, including at least one aid worker.  The UN High Commission for Human Rights condemned continued abductions of women and children by the LRA.  UNICEF and the government claimed that the LRA and other previous rebel groups have abducted 26,000 people during the past ten years.

In southwestern Uganda, government officials claimed that they had virtually eliminated ADF insurgents from the area.  Isolated attacks by insurgents or bandits continued, but less frequently.  A camp for displaced persons suffered an attack in August.

In northeastern Uganda, relative peace in the first three months of 2001 gave way to renewed communal violence in April that reportedly forced thousands of local residents to flee again.

New Uprooted Populations through September

The number of internally displaced Ugandans declined during the first nine months of 2001 because of slightly improved security in some areas and a new registration procedure in the north that enabled improved estimates of the displaced population.  Ironically, some persons reportedly departed displacement camps in the north because they feared the LRA might attack the camps, as in previous years.  New population displacement occurred in the northeast because of renewed communal clashes there over land use.

An estimated 500,000 Ugandans remained internally displaced nationwide as of September.

Thousands of new refugees from neighboring countries entered Uganda during the first nine months of 2001.  Some 5,000 new refugees from Sudan reportedly arrived in northern Uganda, joining the estimated 200,000 Sudanese refugees already living in Uganda.  About 5,000 new refugees from neighboring Congo-Kinshasa--and their 25,000 head of cattle--entered southwestern Uganda, bringing the Congolese refugee population in the country to nearly 15,000.  Some 7,000 asylum seekers from Rwanda arrived in Uganda, many of them after living in Tanzania or after transiting through that country.  Ugandan officials settled the Rwandan arrivals into refugee camps but expressed an interest in screening them individually to assess their claims to refugee status.

Humanitarian Conditions through September

Most displaced Ugandans in the north continued to live in what government officials called "protected villages" guarded by government troops.  Many displaced families have lived in the protected villages involuntarily since 1996, while others have resided there voluntarily.  A partial new census in mid-year concluded that the size of the uprooted population in the north was 20 percent smaller than officials and aid workers had previously reported.

Local religious leaders publicly criticized "appalling conditions" in the government's protected villages and complained that the living conditions among displaced populations had eroded family structures and encouraged prostitution.  A new UN report warned that sexual violence and HIV/AIDS were problems at displacement sites.  Ugandan President Yoweri Musevini acknowledged in July that poverty in the north has worsened during the past three years.  A decade of insurgency, counterinsurgency, and widespread population upheaval in the north have crippled economic activity in what was previously regarded as an agriculturally rich area.

Government officials suggested moving uprooted families from large, crowded camps to smaller sites, but funding constraints posed a serious obstacle to the plan.  A local official in northern Gulu District suggested that improved security in the region might enable tens of thousands of persons to return home by the end of 2001.  Thousands of displaced farmers received seeds from the International Committee for the Red Cross in March in hopes that uprooted families would be able to farm.  Schools in protected villages received food from WFP for 70,000 displaced children.

In southwestern Uganda, some displaced persons returned to their homes in and near the town of Bundibugyo.  Many other uprooted families resided part-time at their homes and farms, and part-time in one of 50 displacement camps in the southwest.  WFP suspended food distributions to some displacement sites because of doubts about the number of needy beneficiaries.  A UN report in April suggested that the relief emergency in the southwest no longer existed and that humanitarian aid programs should emphasize long-term rehabilitation and development.

In northeastern Uganda, up to 90,000 displaced persons resided in 46 camps, according to UN aid officials.  A mid-year UN report cited poor conditions at the isolated camps and charged that Ugandan authorities largely ignored the displaced population's humanitarian needs.  Many northeastern camps offered no health care, leading to growing concerns about malaria and other diseases.

[End Uganda]

[End Document]

Contact: Jeff Drumtra
202-347-3507
jdrumtra@irsa-uscr.org
www.refugees.org