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IRIN Update 824 for the Great Lakes

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UNITED NATIONS
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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RWANDA: UN strongly criticised

An independent enquiry into the UN's role during the 1994 genocide has found the organisation lacking in leadership and decision-making. The enquiry team, headed by former Swedish premier Ingvar Carlsson, on Wednesday presented its report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who commissioned the probe. "By the time the genocide started, the [UN] mission was not functioning as a cohesive whole in the real hours and days of deepest crisis," the report stated, according to news organisations. There was a "lack of political leadership, lack of military capacity, severe problems of command and control, and lack of coordination and discipline". The mission, with 2,500 troops, should have been able to limit the massacres, it added. The report blamed the mission's poor mandate on the-then secretary-general Boutros Boutros Ghali and the UN Security Council "for its delay in identifying the events in Rwanda as a genocide". It also blamed the peacekeeping department, headed by Annan.

"While the presence of UN peacekeepers in Rwanda may have begun as a traditional peacekeeping operation...the onslaught of the genocide should have led decision-makers in the UN from the secretary-general and the Security Council to secretariat officials and the leadership of UNAMIR [the UN mission in Rwanda] to realise that the original mandate, and indeed the neutral mediating role of the UN, was no longer adequate and required different, more assertive response, combined with the means necessary to take such action," the report said.

RWANDA: Annan expresses remorse

Annan on Wednesday issued a statement saying, "On behalf of the UN, I acknowledge this failure and express my deep remorse". "All of us must bitterly regret that we did not do more to prevent it [the genocide]."

BURUNDI: Tanzania asked to arrest Rutana killers

The Burundi government has identified nine assailants who it says are responsible for murdering seven Burundians and two international UN workers during a visit to displaced people at Muzye in Rutana province in October. Presenting the findings of a government enquiry into the murders, Justice Minister Terence Sinunguruza told journalists on Wednesday the attackers were members of the rebel Forces de defense pour la democratie (FDD) who had returned to rear bases in Tanzania. He said the government had called on the international community and the Tanzanian government to arrest the nine people, whose names and places of origin are given in the report. The report also blames the governor of Rutana province for not providing sufficient security measures "knowing that the hills surrounding Muzye were a combat zone". The governor has since been dismissed. The report concluded that the incident occurred "as a result of poor preparation mixed with imprecisions in the organisation of the visit".

BURUNDI: CNDD-FDD rejects government's findings

Spokesman for the rebel CNDD-FDD, Jerome Ndiho, rejected the report and called for an international investigation. In an interview with the BBC Kirundi service, he repeated CNDD-FDD's accusations that the government was responsible for the killings. "A person cannot be accused, investigator and judge at the same time," he said.

BURUNDI: Rebel attacks reportedly diminishing in parts

Rebel attacks in some parts of the country are said to have lessened, although the number of military operations and rebel retaliation in the south is still very high, according to humanitarian sources. Fighting is reported to have reduced in Bujumbura Rural, as have rebel attacks on the capital Bujumbura. In the north, sporadic clashes have been reported, attributed to rebels on their way to the Kibira forest from Tanzania. In Muramvya province, about 500 people from two collines in Kirama zone, near the forest, were regrouped early this month due to the security situation.

BURUNDI: Kirundo badly affected by drought

Severe drought in the country during the September-October planting time has badly affected the provinces of Kirundo, Gitega, Ruyigi, Cankuzo, Karuzi, Muyinga, Rutana and Makamba, the sources said. The situation is particularly alarming in Kirundo, where WFP has already distributed 420 mt of food to 52,000 people. Food prices in the province have risen significantly and an urgent mobilisation of food inputs will be needed for the 2000B season.

BURUNDI: Envoys pledge cooperation

The new US and Belgian ambassadors have pledged to relaunch cooperation with Burundi, the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) reported on Wednesday. In separate meetings with President Pierre Buyoya, the US envoy Mary Carlin said US $25 million had already been disbursed in humanitarian aid to Burundi, while the Belgian ambassador Jan Franz Mutton recalled that an agreement on cooperation in the justice sector was being finalised. "We shall accompany Burundi on the path to peace," he was quoted as saying.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Masire considering mediator's job

Former Botswanan president Ketumile Masire is considering whether to accept the job of mediator in the DRC conflict. He told the BBC he had not put himself forward for the job and had not expected to be chosen. On Wednesday, OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim formally nominated Masire, saying that both the rebel sides and President Laurent-Desire Kabila were in favour of his mediation. In a press release, received by IRIN, Salim said this agreement between the various sides "constitutes an important breakthrough" in efforts to implement the Lusaka ceasefire accord. "More specifically, it creates the essential conditions for the inter-Congolese dialogue," he added. Zambian President Frederick Chiluba remains the overall coordinator of the DRC peace process.

DRC: Deployment schedule set for MLO teams

The schedule for the deployment of military liaison officers (MLO) teams by the UN observer mission MONUC holds that the first batch, including Kindu, should have been completed by Friday, MONUC spokesman General David Hannah told IRIN. Four teams should then be attached to the regional JMC locations at Boende, Lisala, Kabinda - where OAU personnel are already located - and, in due course, Kabalo, by 23 December. Four more teams should be positioned at Kisangani, Gemena, Isiro and Lubumbashi by 30 December; and then two teams, to be situated at Kalemie and Mbuji-Mayi respectively, should be in place by 7 January, General Hannah said.

DRC: Rebel groups to meet in Uganda

The three rebel groups are due to meet again in the southwestern Ugandan town of Kabale, according to RCD rebel-controlled Uvira radio. The Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), the RCD-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) and the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) would each send seven representatives to Kabale on Thursday. According to the radio, the talks will focus on power-sharing and the merging of rebel troops to create a united front, ahead of the national dialogue. Rwandan and Ugandan envoys are also expected to attend.

DRC: UNITA attacks reported in Bas-Congo

An increasing number of security incidents involving retreating UNITA forces from Angola have been reported in the western Bas-Congo province, humanitarian sources told IRIN. This follows an offensive by the Angolan government which has caused the UNITA rebels to flee. A health centre, supported by an international NGO, came under attack and one civilian died, the sources said. They expressed fear that the heightened insecurity in Bas Congo - one of the major food producing areas - could further affect the availability of food in Kinshasa's markets.

DRC: Fighting threatens "return to full-scale war"

Britain on Wednesday said the conflict was deteriorating and renewed fighting in the country threatened "a return to full-scale war". The international community "must insist that the parties - all of them - return to their Lusaka obligations" and it "must be made clear, publicly and privately", there is no alternative to the negotiated peace provided for by the Lusaka Agreement," Foreign Minister for Africa Peter Hain told the UN Security Council. Hain also said Britain's support for a UN peacekeeping force depended on a clear ceasefire and withdrawal arrangements being in place, as well as Security Council clearance for a mission "with the ability to protect itself on the basis of robust rules of engagement and adequate armament".

GREAT LAKES: Warning over critical food shortages

The FAO has warned that a critical food shortage still looms over the Great Lakes region due to ongoing civil conflict. In a press release issued on Wednesday, the FAO said food supply difficulties in Burundi had intensified because of the recent escalation of violence in some parts of the country. It forecast that the current tight food situation would deteriorate in the coming months. In DRC, civil strife had left some 10 million people "uncertain of their next meal", the report warned. Both countries, along with Rwanda, were in the top 15 facing food emergencies.

Nairobi, 16 December 1999, 14:45 gmt

[ENDS]

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