DR Congo + 3 more

IRIN Update 834 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

DRC: Djugu currently calm, humanitarian needs remain

The situation in the Djugu area of Ituri District, northeastern DRC, where sporadic conflict between the pastoralist Hema and agriculturalist Lendu groups escalated in mid-December, was relatively peaceful at present, a humanitarian official in the region told IRIN on Thursday. "The situation is currently calmer, except for sporadic attacks in villages," and that may allow current pacification efforts to bear fruit, said Philip Spoerri, head of delegation for eastern DRC of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The RCD-ML administration in the area has claimed to have facilitated a "working document" involving all the parties immediately concerned with the ethnic conflict and setting out the basis for a cessation of hostilities.

Despite the improved security situation, nutritional assessments have shown "a worrying situation" among tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the area, Spoerri said, adding that humanitarian assistance had been small so far compared to the level of need. The ICRC managed to distribute food to 850 families in Drodro in the last week of December and, security permitting, distributions to 85,000 people throughout the Djugu region would begin next Monday, Spoerri added.

DRC: Bemba claims successes in Equateur fighting

The rebel Mouvement de liberation du congo (MLC) claimed to have killed at least 210 government soldiers in renewed fighting in Equateur Province on the northwestern front on Wednesday, Reuters news agency reported. MLC leader Jean-Pierre Bemba said 150 soldiers of the Forces Armees Congolaises (FAC) had been killed when the MLC repelled a government attack on the rebel-held fishing village of Kuka, and another 60 in an ambush on the Congo River at Libanda, Reuters reported, adding that there was no independent confirmation of the claims. Bemba also claimed the MLC had killed 1,280 government and allied soldiers, and taken 516 prisoners of war, all Congolese, since Kinshasa launched an offensive in the northwest in October, the report stated.

BURUNDI: Army tries to dislodge rebels from southeast

Since the start of the new year, clashes have taken place between government and rebel forces across a broad front, the Burundi 'Azania' news agency reported on Wednesday. Quoting a military source, the agency said the army had begun an offensive aimed at "cleansing" Gisuru, Kinyinya, Giharo and Nyabitsinda communes of rebel elements. Giharo commune was particularly affected in its northern and eastern areas, the report said. Violent clashes on Monday were believed to have left some rebels dead with the loss of two government soldiers, 'Azania' added. The agency also reported that three civilians were killed and 20 others injured near Rumonge on Tuesday when snipers fired on villagers heading towards their fields. Five people believed to be behind the incident were later caught and lynched by a mob at Ruhora, it added.

BURUNDI: Minister regrets linkage of genocide tribunal and Arusha

Justice Minister Terence Sinunguruza said on Thursday that while Burundi repeatedly raised the issue of establishing an international criminal tribunal for the country, others had regrettably linked it continually to progress at the Arusha peace talks. "Unfortunately it happens that some people want to link it to the Arusha process," which was why the UN was not ready to give attention to such a tribunal before finalisation of an Arusha accord, Sinunguruza said on Burundi radio. Each time Burundi raised the issue, "the reasons given to them are reasons showing that the UN is not ready to take any action before the successful end of the Arusha process," he added.

In the same interview, Sinunguruza said that while there had been problems with Burundi's adoption of a domestic law on genocide, a legal commission was close to concluding a draft law for the Council of Ministers. "One has to say that it is regrettable that the law has not been promulgated quickly enough but we must not lose hope, and the commission is still working on it. Probably tomorrow or the day after tomorrow it will come up with a suitable draft," he said.

UGANDA: Government denies rebel attack on Kasese

Minister of State for Defence Steven Kavuma on Wednesday denied media reports of an attack on the local government headquarters in Kasese town the previous day by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Kavuma said a "stampede" in Kasese was due to a local business feud that had got out of hand but that no shots had been fired and the situation was now calm, Radio Uganda reported. It had previously been reported by Rwandan and Ugandan news organisations that the ADF had fired warning shots in the air while ransacking and burning local government buildings in the town "to announce that they were not only in Bundibugyo district but also in Kasese."

UGANDA: Army investigating ADF weapons replenishment

The Ugandan army was investigating the source of new weaponry that has spurred 14 ADF attacks in Bundibugyo, Kabarole and Kasese districts since the 9 December raid on Katojo Prison near Fort Portal, news organisations reported. Humanitarian sources have said that while the rebels had previously used mostly machetes and knives, all now used guns. In the past, Uganda has accused Sudan of supplying rebel movements but on 8 December the two countries signed a reconciliation accord in which they agreed not to support each others' rebel movements.

RWANDA: Worrying scale of HIV-AIDS problem revealed

Some 60 percent of patients in Rwandan hospitals had AIDS-related illness and over 400 000 people in the country had been infected by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported on Wednesday, quoting the Director of the National AIDS Control Programme, Dr Ntaganira Innocent. "One hundred and fifty thousand adults and over 200 000 children died of HIV last year alone. Sixty thousand children were orphaned," RNA quoted Innocent as saying. Rwanda had, for the first time this year,ámade a budget allocation of 100 million Rwandan francs for HIV/AIDS control, it added.

RWANDA: Ministry claims quicker trial rate in genocide cases

Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo announced on Wednesday that the judicial system had settled some 2,500 genocide cases in 1999, compared to a total of just 1,200 in 1997 and 1998, RNA reported. In the 2,500 cases decided in 1999, 116 people were sentenced to death, 322 to life imprisonment and more than 425 sentenced to lesser prison sentences, the agency said. The Gacaca system of participatory justice would speed the process further when it began functioning, probably in April this year, after the necessary laws had been passed, RNA quoted de Dieu Mucyo as saying. The proposed Gacaca system involving 10,000 courts throughout Rwanda is intended to speed up substantially the trial of genocide suspects, more than 125,000 of whom have already been detained and await trial, the report added.

Nairobi, 6 January 2000, 14:30 gmt

[ENDS]

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