IRIN Update 1019 for the Great Lakes

from IRIN
Published on 26 Sep 2000
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa
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DRC: Annan deplores grave humanitarian situation

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his report to the Security Council in which he recommended an eight-week extension to the UN Mission in DRC (MONUC), has stressed that preparations for MONUC's Phase Two deployment are continuing. However, he noted the UN still lacked offers for indispensable specialised units, especially in cargo handling. Some battalions also required major equipment in order to be fully operational. Annan again appealed to potential donors to come forward. On the humanitarian situation, Annan said the number of people in critical need of food was estimated at 16 million or 33 percent of the population. "Chronic food shortages are steadily reaching critical dimensions, most notably in displaced communities in northern Katanga (Pweto) and southern Equateur (Bokungu-Ikela). (A recent MSF mission to Pweto concluded that the nutritional status of some 22,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) was of concern. The mission said many IDPs were dying of malnutrition, diarrhoea and cholera. It also reported that almost half the IDPs were in camps located much too close to the frontline).

Annan's report also expressed grave concern over the state of human rights in the DRC. A mission by Roberto Garreton, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the DRC, in August observed that although some positive steps had been taken by the government - including promulgation of an amnesty decree - further improvements were needed, such as reforming the military courts and eliminating the death penalty. Annan's report said the situation in the rebel-controlled east had deteriorated significantly "with indications that belligerents may be pursuing a deliberate strategy to terrorise the civilian population". Remarking that much of the violence in the east was perpetrated along ethnic lines, the report said the "high incidence of murder of women and children of Rwandan origin should be noted".

Despite pledges by both sides to forgo the recruitment of child soldiers, MONUC observers reported that the belligerents were still continuing this policy and sending them to the frontline for combat duties. Annan's report said a serious decrease in school attendance had been reported throughout the DRC with parents reluctant to send their children to school for fear of forcible recruitment.

DRC: UNICEF provides emergency supply to displaced

A recent review by UNICEF of the stock of therapeutic milk in the nutrition centres it supports, found out that the agency has sufficient stock to continue to feed some 3,570 children attending therapeutic feeding centres in north and south Kivu and in northern Katanga until mid-October. In a press release, UNICEF said that to ensure the continuity of its support beyond this date, it has, in conjunction with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) airlifted 4.5 mt of therapeutic milk, currently available in Kinshasa to Goma. It has ordered 180 mt of therapeutic milk from the UNICEF supply centre in Copenhagen, Denmark of which 30 mt will be delivered by air to Nairobi before the end of September, and then, be delivered by road to arrive early October in Goma. The remaining 150 mt are expected to arrive in November in Mombasa and will be delivered by road.

Essential non-food supplies have already been distributed to 13,239 displaced families in the Kivu provinces and in Kisangani town. Additional assistance of a similar nature has already been ordered to support another 11,000 families and is due to arrive in October in eastern DRC for immediate distribution. Supplies for another 4,000 families are expected to arrive shortly in Lubumbashi for the displaced families in northern Katanga province. A stock of blankets is expected to arrive by the end of September in Butembo in north Kivu for 23,000 displaced families. UNICEF noted that the recent deterioration of the security situation in the Kivus is, however, seriously hampering its capacity to access the most vulnerable communities. It added that its capacity to respond to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in eastern DRC is conditional on funding - which has been limited so far.

DRC: Kabila in Angola

President Laurent-Desire Kabila paid a brief visit to Angola on Monday, where he held talks at Luanda international airport with his Angolan counterpart, Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Angolan state television said the two leaders held closed-door consultations on the "worrying" situation in DRC and on bilateral relations. No statement was issued at the end of the meeting "but it is presumed President Kabila is leaving Angola with reinforced support to defend his legitimate institutions in the DRC," the television reported.

UGANDA: Angolan army chief visits

An Angolan military delegation, led by the Chief-of-Staff, General Joao Baptista de Matos, visited Uganda for talks with President Yoweri Museveni and senior military officers. "The Angolan Chief-of-Staff was here on the invitation of the army commander," Ugandan army spokesman Major Phineas Katirima told IRIN on Monday. "The discussions centred on the presence of both national armies in Congo and how best we can bring peace to that country and the whole region." A statement issued at the end of the visit said that both army commanders agreed to meet regularly "and harmonise the defence and security policies of the two countries as signatories to the Lusaka agreement". Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe back the Congolese government, while Uganda and Rwanda back rival rebel groups.

RWANDA: ICTR opens Kigali information centre

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) opened an information centre in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Monday, according to an ICTR press release. Launching the centre, the ICTR Registrar Agwu Okali said the Tribunal's aim was to try genocide suspects and ensure that these trials made justice a reality in Rwanda. The centre is known as 'Umusanzu mu Bwiyunge' in Kinyarwanda, meaning a "contribution to reconciliation". It is divided into three sections which will form the backbone of the ICTR's information programme in Rwanda. The first is a public information area featuring material on the work of the Tribunal, the second is a library with internet terminals to research the work of the ICTR and the third section comprises a Victims' Assistance Programme which will provide counselling for victims who are potential witnesses at the trials. "The launching of this centre is an important new dimension in the relationship between the International Tribunal and the people of Rwanda," Okali noted. Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza replied that the centre strengthened the bond of partnership between the ICTR and the Rwandan people.

TANZANIA: Rights body documents abuse against Burundi women refugees

The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) organisation on Tuesday said Burundian women in refugee camps in Tanzania were confronted by "daily violence". In its latest report, the body said that widespread sexual and domestic abuse had left many of these women physically battered, psychologically traumatised, and fearful for their lives. It said that although UNHCR had taken "significant steps" to address this violence, the measures were "insufficient".

"When Burundi women fled the internal conflict there, they expected to find safety and protection in the refugee camps," the report said. "Instead, they simply escaped one type of violence in Burundi to face other forms of abuse in the refugee camps in Tanzania," author of the report, and researcher for the women's rights division of HRW, Chirumbidzo Mabuwa said. The report, 'Seeking Protection: Addressing Sexual and Domestic Violence in Tanzania's Refugee Camps', documents the "failure" by UNHCR and the Tanzanian government to address violence against women refugees in a timely and effective manner, despite "ample evidence" that women's lives were in danger in their homes and in the general camp community. UNHCR said it was preparing a response to the report. [The full report can be found at]

BURUNDI: Rebels burn health centre

Rebels believed to be "remnants of criminal groups" that have been fighting government security forces in Rutana province in eastern Burundi, recently burnt down the Gasakuza health centre, Burundi radio reported on Monday. It quoted the governor of Rutana province, Emmanuel Mbonirema, as saying that the health centre was just recently rehabilitated. The report said that security forces had been trying to prevent the attackers from returning to Tanzania. It said that these groups retreated to Nkoma mountains and broke up into several smaller groups. They are also reported to have set a primary school in Mpinga-Kayovu commune on fire. The radio said that many household items had been looted, and described the security situation in Rutana province as "deplorable".

Nairobi, 26 September 2000, 15:15 gmt


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