IRIN Update No. 318 for Central and Eastern Africa

Report
from IRIN
Published on 22 Dec 1997
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa
Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129
e-mail: irin@dha.unon.org

(Saturday-Monday 20-22 December 1997)

RWANDA: Army kills 50 rebels after fresh attack on refugees

At least 50 Hutu rebels were killed by the Rwandan army after they attacked a transit centre at Nkamira, Gisenyi in northeast Rwanda last Thursday housing some 16,000 survivors of the earlier 10 December Mudende massacre, news organisations reported on Friday. Rwandan state radio quoted an army spokesman as saying 30 Tutsi civilians, two refugees and two soldiers were also killed in clashes at Nkamira and around a nearby military camp at Bigogwe.

Human rights groups call for "thorough investigation"

Two leading human rights organisations on Friday demanded a thorough investigation by the UN into the Mudende massacre. Human Rights Watch and the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) said in statements in Paris the Rwandan government should also investigate why its army had failed to protect the refugees. The US, meanwhile, said it had launched consultations on ways to avoid renewed genocide in the central African country. The US initiative came after David Scheffer, ambassador-at-large for war crimes, returned from a fact-finding mission. Secretary of State Spokesman James Rubin said in a statement the Mudende attack represented a "resurgence of genocide in the northwest region of Rwanda... reminiscent of the genocide of 1994." He said Washington was reviewing Scheffer's report and "examining future steps to assist the Rwandan government and people in preventing such atrocities and bringing those responsible to justice".

Government urges Rwandans to remain calm, cooperate with army

The Rwandan government on Monday urged the people to remain calm and to cooperate with the armed forces in trying to track down the people behind the recent spate of attacks. "Show all their hideouts, leave them no quarters, spare them no food or roof, because whoever is found in league with those killers has to be treated likewise. There is nothing to be expected from them save death and hunger, and [they] themselves have nothing to offer you, save the destroying your country, as they are now busy doing," a statement, issued by the prime minister's office, said. It added the country's armed forces were "ready and well prepared with all their might and capability, will and wisdom, to teach a lesson to whoever wants to disturb people's peace and tranquility, or to pull Rwanda back into obscurantism".

World Bank approves loan for road construction

The World Bank has approved a loan to the government of Rwanda of some $45 million for the completion of a main road to Kibuye, some feeder roads, and some roads around the capital Kigali, Rwandan radio reported on Saturday.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila returns from trip to China

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila returned to Kinshasa over the weekend after a one-week visit to China. DRC radio reported Kabila had obtained a package of aid worth some US $150 million and signed some bilateral and technical assistance agreements. He said on return to Kinshasa the Chinese were prepared to come to the country to help in its development.

Floods hit Kisangani

Humanitarian sources told IRIN today (Monday) that heavy rains over the past week had caused the Congo river and other waterways to overflow in the area around Kisangani, damaging property and crops and leaving thousands of people homeless. Witnesses said homes along the river bank had been partially or completely flooded and boats could no longer dock today at Kisangani port. In addition, they said, flooding from the Tshopo river had damaged the central hydro-electric station and the city was without both electricity and running water. The floods are reportedly the worst since 1963, although the area was also hit by less serious floods in 1979.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: First 291 refugees repatriated from Kinshasa

A first batch of some 291 refugees were repatriated on Friday from Kinkole camp outside Kinshasa, aid sources confirmed. It is now planned the repatriation to Congo-Brazzaville will continue every two days and an estimated 1,050 refugees, out of some 8,000 now registered to return, should be able to go home in the first week. WFP has agreed to provide those returning with a one-month food package corresponding to the size of family.

Sassou Nguesso pledges new start with Elf-Aquitaine

Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso has left France for Morocco after a one-week private visit, saying he hopes to start afresh with French oil giant Elf-Aquitaine, Radio France Internationale reported. Sassou Nguesso held talks with French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and urged Paris to help with aid to rebuild the country after its
five-month civil war.

BURUNDI: Ousted president calls for all-inclusive talks

Burundi's deposed president, Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, maintained in an interview with AFP on Sunday that he was the sole legal head of state of the country and called for all-inclusive talks to forge peace. Ntibantunganya, overthrown in a bloodless coup by Major Pierre Buyoya in July 1996, insisted that the only way to end Burundi's civil war was for all parties to enter into negotiations. "I will go to the negotiations as overthrown president. I am ready to speak with the man that overthrew me because negotiation is the only way out of the crisis," AFP quoted him as saying. On Friday, Burundi appealed to the world to take a fresh and positive approach and end the sanctions imposed by neighbouring states following the July coup. "The international community must take account of the new, stable security situation and the willingness of the population
to have national reconciliation," Minister for Peace Ambroise Niyonsaba told a news conference. Meanwhile, the 'East African' newspaper reported on Monday that Buyoya was expected to attend talks in Tanzania chaired by former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere in a fresh attempt to break deadlock in return for Ugandan support for a lifting of economic
sanctions.

KENYA-TANZANIA: Radio says 13 die of mystery illness in northeast Kenya

Kenyan radio reported yesterday that 13 people had died of a mysterious illness in the northeastern districts of Wajir and Garissa which had left them "bleeding uncontrollably". The radio, monitored by the BBC, quoted the area's provincial medical health officer, Dr Abdi Hassan, as saying the disease could be haemorrhagic fever caused by a viral strain passed on by the anopheles mosquito. Hassan confirmed the deaths, but ruled out the possibility of an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. He said the nature of the disease would be confirmed after the blood samples were tested at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) in Nairobi.

WHO details cholera deaths, UNICEF reports outbreak in Zanzibar

WHO reported at a meeting held in Nairobi on 18-19 December on cholera in the Horn of Africa that some 555 people out of some 17,200 affected had died of the disease in Kenya between 26 June and 16 December. In Tanzania, it said, some 1,720 people out of 34,449 cases had died since January 1997. "Almost all countries in the Horn of Africa are affected or threatened by severe cholera outbreaks and the ravages of the disease are likely to increase unless urgent measures are taken," WHO said in a press statement. Meanwhile, a UNICEF official reported to IRIN that more than 130 people died of the disease in Zanzibar over the last three weeks. Reuters quoted Elena Eversole, a UNICEF project officer based in Zanzibar,
as saying: "It's an epidemic ... it's not yet contained".

ANGOLA: Luanda tells UNITA to disarm by 20 January

The Angolan government on Friday gave the UNITA former rebel movement until January 20 to finish disarming its troops, a cornerstone of the 1994 Lusaka peace pact that has yet to be fully implemented. In a communique broadcast over state radio, AFP reported the government also told UNITA to relinquish its two strongholds in central Angola, Bailundo and ndulo.
Meanwhile, Angolan state radio reported about 8,000 UNITA soldiers were on the move in Malanje province. Lucas Gomes, commander of the National Police in the province, was quoted by the radio as saying the soldiers had come from Negage, Huila Province.

SUDAN: New river blindness outbreak hits 80,000 more - paper

Some 80,000 people have lost their sight due to a new outbreak of river blindness in Sudan, AFP reported a Sudanese health official as saying. The agency said Leila Abulfutuh was quoted in the 'Al Rai Al Akher' newspaper yesterday as saying that 95 percent of Raga town's 400,000 inhabitants had contracted the disease and some 20 percent, around 80,000 people, were already blind. Raga is situated on a river of the same name in Bahr Al Ghazal, some 75 km from Sudan's border with Central Africa Republic. Abulfutuh said the Sudanese health ministry and WHO were cooperating to fight the disease.

Nairobi, 22 December 1997 15:30 GMT

[ENDS]

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