IRIN Update No. 525 Central and Eastern Africa

Report
from IRIN
Published on 16 Oct 1998
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

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Kabila calls for calm to "overcome difficulties"

President Laurent-Desire Kabila returned to Kinshasa from Lubumbashi yesterday (Thursday), urging calm in order to "overcome the difficulties". Speaking over DRC television, Kabila said the Congolese people "must have confidence in themselves and not in the fortuitous meetings of the head of state, even if such meetings are very important and sometimes beneficial..." He added that the current fuel shortage in Kinshasa "will be resolved".

New US envoy backs DRC

The new US ambassador to DRC, William Swing, expressed optimism that the authorities "are on the right path". In comments broadcast by DRC television yesterday, he said the US "condemned the external military interference from countries such as Rwanda and Uganda". "We support every sincere effort to help you find an end to this war," he added.

ICRC visits detained Tutsis in Lubumbashi

The ICRC this week began visiting detained ethnic Tutsis in Lubumbashi, an ICRC spokesperson told IRIN. She said the local authorities had agreed to the ICRC's conditions for visiting the sites, namely repeated visits, individual interviews and the possibility for detainees to write letters. She added that as soon as the visits were completed and with the DRC uthorities' agreement, the ICRC would provide more information and figures on the Lubumbashi sites. Meanwhile visits to Tutsis detained at the Kokolo camp in Kinshasa were continuing, she added.

SUDAN: Relief supplies delivered to Yambio

Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) airlifted some 3 mt of medicines to Yambio for about 12,000 Sudanese refugees who recently returned from the Dungu area of northeastern DRC. In a press release received today (Friday) by IRIN, OLS said it was currently conducting a comprehensive assessment but preventive health measures would be taken because of the large number of returnees. It also noted that WFP had dispatched some 150 mt of food to Yambio. According to OLS, reports said the returnees were moving in organised groups towards the Yambio, Tambura and Maridi areas and there were no signs of severe malnutrition. Other humanitarian sources told IRIN that Yambio was overloaded and a trucking operation was being organised for onward transport to the returnees' home villages.

Wau situation improved but still critical

While the humanitarian situation in the Wau area of Bahr al-Ghazal has improved since September, any interruption in assistance would be fatal for thousands of people, UNICEF said. In a briefing note received by IRIN today, UNICEF said that the influx of displaced people in government-held Wau has almost stopped and that the situation has stabilised. As a result, humanitarian agencies are focusing on improving the quality of emergency services, strengthening children's immune systems and bolstering household-food security through agriculture and fishery initiatives. About 70,000 displaced people arrived in Wau town between April-August, most in very poor condition. Some 5,800 people are now receiving help in 24 Wau feeding centres, UNICEF said.

Families displaced from Nuba Mountains

Meanwhile, families displaced from the Heiban area of the Nuba Mountains continue to arrive in a camp in the Kadugli area of South Kordofan, UNICEF said. In its latest monthly report from Khartoum, UNICEF said there were about 600-700 people in the camp, but that other Nuba displaced had moved on to Khartoum or other areas north of Kadugli. About 100 malnourished children in the camp, as well as pregnant and lactating women, are receiving assistance in a UNICEF-supported feeding centre run by SCF-US, the report said.

Sudan normalising ties with Ethiopia

Sudan meanwhile said it was involved in talks with Ethiopia on normalising relations between the two countries. Foreign Miniser Dr Mustafa Uthman Ismail noted that agreement had already been reached on resuming Ethiopian Airlines flights to Khartoum. According to SUNA news agency, he added that Sudan would be the country most affected by the Eritrea-Ethiopia border conflict and warned of a large influx of refugees.

ETHIOPIA/ERITREA: ICRC continues helping detainees

The ICRC said it was continuing its assistance to the conflict-affected people of both Eritrea and Ethiopia. In a press release, received by IRIN today, the ICRC noted it had begun visiting civilian internees at various places of detention in Eritrea, and was continuing its visits to prisoners-of-war and civilian detainees in Ethiopia. A network has been established for the exchange of family news between interned people and their relatives.

RWANDA: Number of displaced people increasing in northwest

The OCHA office in Rwanda told IRIN today the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the northwestern prefectures of Ruhengeri and Gisenyi is still increasing, reaching a total of 478,637 on 14 October. At the beginning of September, 365,000 IDPs were registered in the two prefectures. In its September report, OCHA said over the past few months, more people have emerged from hiding in the forests. Reports note that the IDPs are malnourished and require assistance.

The report also said a feeding operation had started in early August in Gisenyi prefecture. Twelve supplementary feeding sites and two therapeutic centres, which were set up or reinforced within the framework of this programme, received a monthly average of 4,614 and 260 beneficiaries respectively. Plans are underway to increase the number of feeding centres and to include malnourished women in the programme which currently targets children.

BURUNDI: FRODEBU leader "hopeful" for Arusha talks

As the peace talks in Arusha, Tanzania, entered their fourth day today, opposition FRODEBU leader Jean Minani xpressed "hope" over the outcome.

In an interview with Burundi radio yesterday, he said that if the negotiations were properly conducted "they could really bring about a solution to Burundi's problems".

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: UN mission's mandate extended

The UN Security Council yesterday extended the mandate of the UN mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) until 28 February 1999 to support upcoming legislative elections in November/December. UN spokesman Fred Eckhard announced that the mandate of the UN mission, which arrived in the Central African Republic in April 1998, will include transportation and security of electoral observers and material, as well as limited monitoring of the first and second round of the elections.

AFRICA: Annan launches African development panel

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has inaugurated a panel of high-level personalities on African development, saying it would serve as his "think tank" on critical African issues. Speaking in New York yesterday, he said African countries were bearing the burden of the negative consequences of the Asian financial crisis which necessitated "more decisive efforts".

Africa's massive external debt has been a major obstacle to the continent's economic growth and sustainable development, he said, adding he had recommended that creditor countries should convert remaining bilateral debts into grants for the poorest African countries.

Nairobi, 16 October 1998, 13:45 gmt

[ENDS]

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