Burundi + 4 more

IRIN Update 831 for the Great Lakes

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UNITED NATIONS
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for Central and Eastern Africa
Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129
e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org

GREAT LAKES: Displacement surge in affected populations

The affected population requiring humanitarian assistance in the Great Lakes region rose from 3.9 million to 4.3 million between August and December 1999 - a rise of 9 percent, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has stated in its latest report. While the number of refugees was down from 1,042,048 in August to 933,894 in December (largely because of corrected figures from a re-registration exercise in Tanzania and the repatriation from DRC of Republic of Congo citizens), the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) rose by 17 percent in the same period, the report stated.

The most dramatic increase in IDP numbers was in the Republic of Congo, where displaced people numbered 331,625 in August but 801,000, or one-third of the entire population, by December. In DRC, the number of IDPs increased by 21 percent, which OCHA termed "unacceptably high, particularly when the belligerents have signed a ceasefire agreement." IDP numbers increased by 28 percent in Burundi between August and December amid significantly increased levels of confrontation between the government and rebel forces, the report stated. "The resumption of hostilities in the DRC and Republic of Congo, the deterioration of the situation in Burundi and renewed violence in western Uganda are all discouraging signs that the region is yet to find a way to lasting peace," OCHA stated.

BURUNDI: Renewed donor support expected to boost growth

A decision to resume donor support to Burundi - even in the absence of a peace agreement at the Arusha peace talks - is expected to be reached early in the new year, which would probably raise real growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 5 percent in the year 2000 and 6 percent in 2001 from an estimated 3 percent this year, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reported on Tuesday. These performance forecasts were based on the assumption that the war would continue, depressing recovery in the agriculture-dominated economy, the EIU said, adding however that a larger than expected upsurge in fighting would depress the anticipated growth levels.

On the political front, the EIU anticipated that the Burundian rebels would continue to collaborate closely with Rwandan Hutu rebel elements and that, for this reason, "the Rwandan and Burundian governments will come closer together on security, despite their mutual distrust." Burundian President Pierre Buyoya would also continue his efforts to woo South Africa, the report suggested.

BURUNDI: Security protocol to allow UN fully resume activities

A security protocol between the government and the UN is expected to be finalised this week, allowing UN agencies to fully resume humanitarian activities that were severely curtailed in the wake of the murder of nine people, including two UN staff, in October, OCHA stated in its affected populations report on Friday. The protocol is to include the establishment of UN and government security cells "to allow the organisation of missions in the country and the use of armed escorts for missions outside the capital (Bujumbura)," the report added. Humanitarian sources have also reported that an attempt is to be made to better define the concept of access in light of misunderstanding between relief agencies and the government on the accessibility of the regroupment camps to which the authorities are forcibly relocating civilians.

The number of people moved to regroupment camps in Bujumbura Mairie and Rural had reached 322,336 by December, according to OCHA statistics. In all, it stated, the displaced population in Burundi as of December was 791,421, the refugee population 21,864 (mostly from DRC, but with a small number also from Rwanda) and the number of unaccompanied children an estimated 7,000 - giving an affected population of 820,285 from a total population of 6.5 million.

DRC: Kinshasa calls for UN action on alleged massacre

The Kinshasa government's Ambassador to the UN, Andre Mwamba Kapanga, has formally complained to the UN Security Council about the alleged massacre of 15 Congolese women by Rwandan troops in "the occupied eastern territory of the DRC" between 15 and 22 November. In a letter to the Security Council, Kapanga said Rwandan troops buried alive 13 named and two unnamed women in the villages of Bulinzi, Bongombe and Ngando, in Mwenga District, South Kivu province. Media reports have linked the alleged massacre to the women's supposed collaboration with Mayi-Mayi fighters who are in conflict with Rwandan forces and their Congolese rebel allies in eastern DRC. "Since the beginning of the war several massacres have been committed with impunity," Kapanga stated, in calling for the Council to "investigate these violations of international humanitarian law ... and to take steps to bring their perpetrators to justice."

DRC: Repeated violations of press freedom reported

Forty journalists were arrested and held in solitary cells by DRC security services during 1999, but only three remained behind bars at the end of the year, the press freedom watchdog Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) stated on Tuesday. A number of journalists from DRC had gone into exile fearing for their lives, while others had been sentenced for "revealing state secrets" or "attacking territorial integrity," RSF stated. In all, it said, some 100 journalists had been imprisoned for shorter or longer periods since President Laurent-Desire Kabila came to power in 1997. DRC: UN concern at JMC provision on humanitarian activities

The UN on Friday expressed concern at provisions by the Joint Military Commission (JMC) established to implement the Lusaka ceasefire agreement that it should authorise humanitarian activities in the country. This provision "raises serious concerns among UN and NGO relief agencies as it is in contradiction of the agreed Principles of Engagement for Emergency Humanitarian Assistance in the DRC and could lead to additional delays in the provision of humanitarian aid," OCHA stated in a report. The agency "would continue to lobby on behalf of the humanitarian community to ensure that this proviso is revised," it added.

RWANDA: Prosecutors and judicial defenders sworn-in

Four prosecutors and 22 deputy prosecutors were sworn-in on Tuesday in Kigali in a bid to speed up trial proceedings in the judicial sector, Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported. The prosecutors were from Byumba, Cyangugu, Gikongoro and Ruhengeri prefectures while the deputies included 14 in the Court of Appeal and eight in the Court of First Instance, it stated. Seventy-one graduates of a training programme for judicial defenders were also sworn in on Tuesday at the Kigali Court of First Instance. In a press release received by IRIN, the Danish Centre for Human Rights, which ran the project in collaboration with the government, said: "Rwanda's combined corps of lawyers and judicial defenders is now augmented by more than 100 per cent, representing a significant increase in Rwanda's capacity to provide much-needed legal advice and representation, especially in the context of the genocide trials."

RWANDA: Returnee flow from eastern DRC continues

Rwandan refugees in eastern DRC were continuing to return to Rwanda, mainly from the Masisi and Rutshuru areas, at the rate of 300 to 500 persons a week, OCHA's affected populations report stated. So far, some 30,000 people have returned from the DRC, it said, adding that the total affected population requiring humanitarian relief stood at 319,325 as of December 1999. That figure comprised an estimated displaced population of 150,000, including 60,000 people recently relocated to Gisenyi and 90,000 to Ruhengeri, as well 6,000 unaccompanied children. It also included 130,000 detainees and a refugee population of 33,325 (the vast majority from DRC), the agency stated.

UGANDA: Army claims successes in campaign against ADF

Minister of State for Defence Steven Kavuma on Tuesday claimed the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) had dominated the operation against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels in the west of the country, denying the rebels their bases in the Rwenzori Mountains and eastern DRC. Kavuma said the army had killed over 80 "bandits" and captured 64 in its ongoing operation against the ADF in Bundibugyo, Kabarole and Kasese districts, Radio Uganda reported. The UPDF campaign had also "depleted the enemy's strength both in terms of personnel and equipment captured," it quoted Kavuma as saying.

UGANDA: Museveni pledges support for a peaceful Burundi

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Tuesday he and other leaders in the Great Lakes region were ready "to fully support the Barundi once they agreed on an equitable plan of how to bring peace, security and democracy to their country." Museveni told Burundi envoy Colonel Alfred Nkurunziza in Kampala that "it should be possible to attain peace in Burundi" if it worked closely with others in the region, according to a statement from the Presidential Press Secretary's office. Nkrunziza briefed President Museveni on the security and political situation in Burundi, assuring him that Bujumbura viewed dialogue as "the only way" to bring peace to Burundi.

TANZANIA: New camp for Burundi refugees

A reduced flow of Burundian refugees during the first half of December was countered by a dramatic increase once again on 18 and 19 December when 2,380 refugees arrived in two days, OCHA reported on Friday. The latest arrivals, said to be in good physical condition, said the reasons for their flight were the Burundi government's forcible recruitment of young men and women to fight the country's rebels and, on the other hand, the rebels' telling civilians to flee to Tanzania, the report added. Due to the saturation of existing refugee camps, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on 22 December opened a new camp at Karago, Kigoma region, to receive new arrivals from Burundi, OCHA stated.

Nairobi, 29 December 1999, 12:30 gmt

[ENDS]

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