Congo + 4 more

IRIN Update 864 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

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Attack on Uvira repulsed

Rebels of the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) said they had fought back an attack against Uvira in South Kivu on Thursday, news agencies reported. Rebel spokesman Kin-Kiey Mulumba said that about 200 attackers had tried to overrun Uvira at about 3 a.m. on Thursday, but "they were dislodged by our forces and our Rwandan and Burundian allies," AFP quoted Mulumba as saying. He said there were no civilian losses in the attack, but one RCD soldier was killed. A local human rights group, Heritiers de la Justice, said in a statement received by IRIN on Thursday that automatic weapons fire had been heard through the night, particularly in the eastern parts of Uvira.

RCD official Bizima Karaha told IRIN on Friday the attack was carried out by Burundian rebels of the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie-Forces de defense pour la democratie (CNDD-FDD) and militia allied to President Laurent-Desire Kabila. "Kabila had a hand in planning the attack to show the world that he has a presence in this area, and he used the FDD and the Mayi-Mayi", Karaha said. But a CNDD-FDD spokesman rejected the allegation: "Our policy is to fight inside Burundi and we're progressively doing that. We did not attack Uvira," CNDD-FDD spokesman Jerome Ndiho told IRIN on Friday.

DRC: RCD denies role in priest's murder

The RCD, for its part, denied reports that it was responsible for this week's death of a priest in South Kivu. Karaha told IRIN on Friday that the priest was killed by Mayi-Mayi warriors, on the instructions of Kinshasa, in an attempt to "discredit" the RCD. The Vatican news agency Fides reported on Wednesday that the 30-year-old priest, Remis Pepe, and two civilian watchmen were killed during the attack on a church at Kiliba between Bukavu and Uvira on Tuesday evening. It cited local sources as saying the attack, in which the church was burned, was carried out by "Banyamulenge rebels".

DRC: Civilians flee Equateur fighting

Thousands of civilians in Equateur province have crossed the Oubangui river into the Republic of Congo to escape heavy fighting between DRC government forces and advancing rebels of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC), UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said on Friday. He said MLC rebels had been progressing towards the town of Mbandaka over the past several weeks. UNHCR was currently providing assistance to between 10,000 and 15,000 refugees, who were scattered along a 400-km stretch in the Impfondo area of the Republic of Congo, he said. Most of the refugees referred to the rebel forces as "liberators" and said they were fleeing alleged violence and harassment by retreating government troops, Redmond stated. UNHCR has opened a field office in Impfondo to respond to the needs of the refugee population. The majority were fishermen and were largely self-sufficient in food, he said.

DRC: Clinton wants to support UN force

President Bill Clinton on Thursday said the US would support a peacekeeping operation in the DRC, news agencies reported. "I have told our Congress that America intends to do its part by supporting the next phase of the UN's peacekeeping operation in the Congo," Clinton said at the opening of a national summit on Africa in Washington. He said African countries had taken the lead in finding a solution to the DRC conflict. "They are not asking us to solve their problems or to deploy our military. All they have asked is that we support their own efforts to build peace, and to make it last," Clinton was quoting as saying. "Peace will not happen overnight. It will require steady commitment from the parties and the unwavering support of the international community," he added.

RWANDA: Prosecutor asks court not to release suspect

The Prosecutor of the Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Carla Del Ponte, asked the ICTR's Appeals Court on Wednesday to reject a motion by genocide suspect Laurent Semanza to have his arrest and detention declared illegal on the grounds that his rights were repeatedly violated, the independent Hirondelle news agency reported. Del Ponte argued that procedural delays during Semanza's initial detention in Cameroon in 1996 were beyond the prosecution's control and that it had shown "due diligence" at all stages, Hirondelle stated. The defence team has said the facts of Semanza's case were "the same, similar or even identical" to that of genocide suspect Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, whom the Appeals Court ordered released on procedural grounds last November. Del Ponte has already asked the court to review the Barayagwiza decision. "I have 800,000 to one million corpses crying out for justice and it is your task to decide what to do," Hirondelle quoted her as telling the court.

UGANDA: Alleged links with UNITA probed

A team of experts from the UN Security Council on Wednesday completed a visit to Uganda to investigate allegations that Angolan UNITA rebels were using Ugandan territory for transit purposes, an official from Uganda's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to IRIN on Friday. "The team was here to investigate the claims, but we still do not have details or what their findings were," he said. News agencies on Thursday quoted the chairman of the UN panel, Ambassador Anders Mollander of Sweden, as saying the team was investigating reports of violations of UN sanctions against UNITA with respect to arms, mercenaries and other forms of military assistance. "We have asked your government about it," the semi-official 'New Vision' newspaper quoted Mollander as telling journalists in Kampala on Wednesday. "It is going to be in our report" to be released next month, he added.

TANZANIA: 450 unaccompanied children in Karago

Most refugees in the Karago camp in Kibondo district are single mothers, and some 450 unaccompanied children have been identified in the camp, according to a UNICEF report on its emergency programmes in Tanzania. "Over 50 children have been successfully reunited through on-the-spot tracing," the report said. Karago camp was opened by UNHCR in December in response to an upsurge of refugee arrivals from Burundi. The report said that nearly two-thirds of the 450,000 refugees in the Kigoma and Kagera camps were children under five years old, pregnant and lactating women, children of primary school age and unaccompanied minors. For the year 2000, UNICEF requires US $6.1 million to implement its emergency activities for women and children in Tanzania's refugee camps and affected local communities, it added.

Nairobi, 18 February 2000 16:00 gmt

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