DR Congo + 5 more

IRIN Update No. 478 for Central and Eastern Africa

News and Press Release
Originally published
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: Rebels deny government forces heading east

The rebellion in eastern DRC has denied claims by the government that its troops are approaching the Kivu region. At the same time, the army in government-held Bunia called for "unity" amid reports that rebels are pushing towards the town. Humanitarian sources told IRIN the western town of Boma fell to the rebels today (Tuesday). [For detailed information, see separate IRIN item issued today]

Call for aggressors to be "punished" - newspaper

The OAU and the UN will be called on to "punish" countries discovered to be involved in the destabilisation of the DRC, Zimbabwe's official 'Herald' newspaper said on Sunday. The South African news agency SAPA reported the 'Herald' as quoting Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe announcing the dispatch of a team of southern African foreign ministers and military officers on a fact-finding mission to the DRC this week. If the team, made up of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia, concludes the DRC is the victim of external aggression, the matter would be taken up with the OAU and UN, the paper said. The fact-finding mission was agreed at a summit of seven regional leaders on the DRC crisis held in Zimbabwe at the weekend.

Kabila rejects South African mediation

SAPA reported yesterday (Monday) that Mugabe deliberately excluded South Africa from the weekend mediation effort. The 'Herald' said this was due to Kabila's concerns over South Africa's links to Rwanda and Uganda and differences of opinion between Mugabe and President Nelson Mandela over control of a trouble-shooting committee of the South African Development Community. Kabila has accused both Rwanda and Uganda of direct military intervention on behalf of Congolese rebels. Both countries have denied the charge.

Zimbabwe to provide military assistance

Zimbabwean Defence Minister Moven Mahachi told the independent local weekly the 'Financial Gazette' that Harare has agreed in principle to provide military assistance to the DRC. He said 10 military officers were in the country to assess the restructuring and training needs of the army. The remarks were published on 6 August and Reuters said it had been unable to verify whether Harare planned to go ahead with the military aid. According to media reports, Zimbabwe has been a supplier of military equipment to the DRC.

UGANDA: Extensive flood damage reported

Humanitarian sources report that heavy rains in the Lake Victoria Basin over the past two months have caused extensive flooding with at least 20,000 people affected in Lira district, and possibly the same number in Apac. Homes have been swamped, feeder roads submerged "and its getting worse," a senior aid official told IRIN. The volume of water flowing through the Owen Falls Dam was last week double its normal rate. "Floating islands" of water hyacinth and soil churned up by the flood waters have clogged Lakes Kyoga and Kwania, blocking the free flow of water along the Nile. All districts touching the two lakes have been affected, sources say. The government is reportedly considering blowing up the islands.

15 new ministers sworn-in

Fifteen newly-appointed ministers were sworn in by President Yoweri Museveni yesterday. State radio said among the appointments was Stephen Kavuma as minister of state for defence. At least seven women were named as ministers in what the radio described as a mini-reshuffle.

KENYA: Death toll rises to 211

The death toll in the Nairobi bomb blast has risen to 211, Kenyan state radio reported today. The figure is likely to climb further as rescue teams excavate the final sections of the devastated Ufundi Cooperative building. Meanwhile, the international effort is turning towards discovering who was responsible for the two car bombs on Friday aimed at the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Kenya's 'Standard' newspaper reported today that an embassy security guard witnessed five men jump from a truck in the embassy's rear car park and open fire with automatic weapons. One of men threw a hand grenade. Moments later the truck exploded, the paper said. The security guard has been flown for medical treatment in Germany.

TANZANIA: 14 people detained over blast

In Tanzania, 14 people have been detained and are being questioned by the authorities and FBI agents over the Dar es Salaam blast. Six of the men are reportedly Sudanese, six Iraqis and a Somali and a Turk. The authorities initially rounded up 30 people. US forensic experts are continuing to sift through the wreckage in the embassy compound for clues. Cameras which might yield crucial evidence are believed to have survived the blast.

SUDAN: ICRC calls for greater relief effort

ICRC has called for aid agencies to take advantage of Sudan's ceasefire to step up their efforts to reach the starving. "Lots of food is arriving, but there has to be more and the problem in future is to make sure it gets to the people who need it," AFP reported an ICRC official as saying in London. He said the ICRC could not confirm or deny reports from NGOs and donor countries that up to 60 percent of food aid is being stolen by government troops or rebel forces. "But (the allegations) should be taken seriously," he added.


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