Burundi + 4 more

IRIN Update 844 for the Great Lakes

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UNITED NATIONS
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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for Central and Eastern Africa
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e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org

TANZANIA: Official denies recruitment of Burundi refugees

The government of Tanzania has denied press reports alleging it has admitted that Burundi rebels have been recruiting from five refugee camps in the country. An official in the home affairs ministry, Patrick Tsere, who was quoted by a news agency, told IRIN on Friday he did not say "anything like that". "The journalist asked me whether there was military activity going on in the camps," he explained. "I told him that he had visited the camps and talked to the inhabitants and seen for himself the kind of people the refugees were, what was going on in the camps and how they lived," he said. "I told him that there was no military activity in the camps, because the camps are suppose to be civilian in nature." "There is no recruitment in the camps whatsoever because the war is on Burundian territory," he added.

UNHCR officials contacted by IRIN said they were "puzzled" by the news report. "We do not know of any recruitment going on in the camps," an official from the agency's Kigoma office said. "UNHCR is concerned about the civilian nature of the camps and that is why it supports the ministry of home affairs and the police in all the camps." She added that the police had been working hard to control refugee movements and ensure discipline in the camps.

TANZANIA: Government allocates site for refugees

The Tanzanian government has agreed to allocate UNHCR another refugee site for emergencies, in the event that a new camp, Karago, in Kigoma region, reaches its maximum capacity of 40,000 people. By 18 January, the population of the camp had reached 23,152. "The rate of influx of the [mostly Burundi] refugees into the area from December, when it was launched, to the early part of the year was about 1,000 a day," UNHCR spokesman Vincent Parker told IRIN on Friday. "Looking at the number already in the camp, we realised that if the trend continued, the camp would be filled to capacity in another 17 days." He said the government agreed to make available a new site at Musuhura in Ngara district. The site was once host to some 80,000 Rwandese refugees between 1994-1996, but was closed in 1996 because the refugees had returned home.

BURUNDI: Strike could lead to general insecurity

Burundi's Interior Minister Colonel Ascension Twagiramungu has warned that the strike action called by trade unions could result in the deterioration of security countrywide. Burundi radio quoted him as saying the "trade union movement appears more like a political and subversive movement rather than a trade union movement". Regional analysts have warned that a trade union strike in the capital Bujumbura earlier this week demonstrated mounting anger against President Pierre Buyoya's economic policies, which are causing untold hardship to many sections of the population.

BURUNDI: Buyoya declares war on corruption.

President Pierre Buyoya has announced he will fight corruption, which he admitted was on the rise in Burundi. During a meeting with finance ministry staff on Thursday, he warned the problem could become a crisis if it was not checked, the Agence burundaise de presse (ABP) reported. The president unveiled "countermeasures" and stressed the need for political will and a sense of responsibility on the part of government employees at all levels. Observers point out that before the current political and economic turmoil, Burundi had one of the most efficient and incorruptible civil services in Africa.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Annan proposes force of over 5,000 peacekeepers

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed deploying a total force of 5,537 UN troops in the DRC, given the deteriorating situation in the country. In a report to the Security Council issued this week, he said the proposal was based on the assumption that the parties to the conflict would respect the Lusaka peace accord and the relevant Security Council resolutions. The force would be concentrated around four reinforced infantry battalions and located at four separate sites, identified provisionally as Mbandaka, Mbuji Mayi, Kisangani and a point yet to be determined in the southeast. According to the report, the military tasks of the expanded MONUC force would include military liaison, monitoring the cessation of hostilities, investigating ceasefire violations and verifying the disengagement of the various forces. He stressed the troops "would not serve as an interposition force nor would they be expected to extract military observers or civilian personnel by force".

DRC: Kabila, Ilunga to attend UN session

DRC President Laurent Kabila will attend a special session of the UN Security Council on the DRC next week, Reuters quoted a senior presidential aide as saying on Thursday. Kabila's attendance had been in doubt after he demanded that the US first condemn the roles played by Uganda and Rwanda in the conflict, Reuters added. Meanwhile, the leader of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), Emile Ilunga, has also confirmed his attendance. However, the leader of the rebel Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) Jean-Pierre Bemba told AFP his group would not send a delegation "because we are not going to stay in the corridors - it's a question of dignity". "If people think they can make plans for the future of the DRC without us, they are wrong," he added.

DRC: Rebels reportedly retreat from Ikela

The military head of the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie, Jean-Pierre Ondekane, on Thursday admitted some of his troops were forced to withdraw from the Ikela region of Equateur province, after Zimbabwean troops managed to control river routes in the area, AFP reported. "They [the Zimbabweans] came by the river, went round our positions and reached as far as Ikela," he was quoted as saying. "Now fighting is raging at the airport where the encircling took place." He said he had asked his vanguard units to make a "strategic retreat". AFP reported that fighting was still continuing in the town and that it had not "completely fallen" to the Zimbabwean troops.

RWANDA: ICTR rejects defendant's request to change lawyers

The president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Judge Navanethem Pillay, on Wednesday confirmed the court's decision to refuse a request by genocide suspect, Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, to change his defence counsel. According to an ICTR press release, she said a change of counsel would delay the 15 February hearing of the Prosecution's application for a review of the Appeal Chamber's decision to drop charges against Barayagwiza on technical grounds. Rwanda has temporarily suspended cooperation with the ICTR in protest at the decision.

RWANDA: ICRC repatriates Rwandan POWs

Eight prisoners from the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), held in Kinshasa, were repatriated by the ICRC last week for medical reasons, the ICRC said. The decision to repatriate the POWs was taken by the Congolese authorities in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Geneva Conventions. "The prisoners had been registered and were regularly visited by the ICRC during their captivity," the ICRC said.

UGANDA: Permanent mountain brigade set up

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has been visiting the western Bundibugyo district, said the army has established a permanent mountain brigade against rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Ugandan radio reported. It quoted him as admitting there were "operational weaknesses" against the rebels, but these had been addressed by the army.

Nairobi, 21 January 2000, 13:05 gmt

[ENDS]

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