DR Congo + 4 more

IRIN Update No. 502 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

SUDAN: Fighting in Equatoria, near Gallabat

Humanitarian sources say up to 150 shells fell in the Torit area yesterday. Torit is one of a handful of government-held towns in eastern Equatoria. The firing came as part of a rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) offensive. An SPLA spokesman told AP that his movement had recently attacked Torit and Liria, both to the southeast of the key garrison town of Juba. The spokesman also claimed that 40 government troops were killed on an attack by the SPLA on "Mile 38" south of Juba. Sources in touch with the area say government aerial bombardments of the wider Torit area have been going on for some time. On the northeastern front, a press release received by IRIN from the Sudan Alliance Forces claimed an attack on Haskaneet, southwest of Gallabat on the Ethiopian border, on September 13, leaving 15 militia dead.

Northern state "devastated"

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement today (Tuesday) that a 1,000 kilometre stretch along the Nile in Sudan's Northern state is flooded. The Federation regards malaria as being a "major killer" and announced the delivery of insecticide and sprayers in a shipment of humanitarian relief flown to Khartoum from the Spanish Red Cross yesterday.

Forgotten "lost boys" need special help, agency says

Thousands of the former "lost boys of Sudan," most now in their 20s, remain in the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, stigmatised by their own peoples and in need of special assistance, US-based Refugees International has said. The refugees were among the 10,500 unaccompanied children who reached Kakuma in May 1992 after having spent months walking from their closed Ethiopian camps through southern Sudan, in treacherous and hostile conditions. While the unique circumstances of the boys had drawn the attention of the world six years ago, they are now, as young men, in danger of being forgotten, Refugees International said in a report received by IRIN.

Because the young men had grown up without families, had undergone military training as children and were segregated at Kakuma, they are now vulnerable to forced conscription by the SPLA and are ill-equipped for integrating into their Dinka or Nuer communities that treat them as outcasts, the report said. Refugees International recommends that a portion of these young refugees be considered for third-country resettlement.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebels defeat attack on Goma

Goma was relatively calm today after rebel forces yesterday repulsed an early-morning attack on the town by hundreds of fighters comprising Mayi-Mayi warriors, Hutu Interahamwe militia and ex-FAR, news organisations and humanitarian sources reported. Rebel military commander Jean-Pierre Ondekane said the fighters, who allegedly came down from Masisi, attacked Goma's airport and radio station, adding that their main target was Gisenyi across the border in Rwanda. Rebel forces killed about 100 fighters and captured 200 others, while the remainder fled back towards Masisi, according to news agencies.

Information on civilian casualties was not immediately available. Ondekane did not specify whether DRC government troops were involved in the attack, but Reuters quoted DRC Information Minister Didier Mumengi in Kinshasa as saying that the Mayi-Mayi were fighting on the side of the government. Mumengi also claimed on state television that government forces had taken Kibumba just north of Goma.

SADC summit ends inconclusively

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) annual summit in Mauritius, attended by leaders of 14 African countries including the DRC, ended yesterday without making any significant progress on ending the conflict, news agencies reported. The summit's final communique "recognized the legitimacy" of the military intervention of Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia on the side of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, but it did not condemn SADC non-members Rwanda and Uganda for any "aggression" against the DRC, AFP reported. Envoys from Rwanda and Uganda, meanwhile, reaffirmed their position that Kabila's continued refusal to negotiate directly with the rebels was making peace impossible.

Banyamulenge facing "extermination"

A South Kivu-based party, Les forces republicaines et federalistes (FRF), has warned that Congolese Tutsis are threatened with "extermination" by the on-going civil war in the DRC. In a statement received by IRIN today, the FRF said Kabila had incited the country's population against the Banyamulenge, leading to the killing of many Congolese Tutsis, including civilians, in Kinshasa, Kisangani, Katanga and South Kivu. The FRF also accused the international community of abandoning the Congolese Tutsis to their fate.

Human rights group appeals for tolerance

Meanwhile, a Lubumbashi-based human rights coalition, while denouncing the "foreign aggression" against the DRC, has called on the Congolese people not to give in to xenophobic sentiments in the current crisis. La Concertation des associations de defense des droits de l'homme du Katanga (CADHOK), in a statement received by IRIN today, urged the DRC government to proceed with the repatriation of detained Rwandans under humane conditions and to extend the work of an inter-ministerial commission for the protection of Congolese Tutsis. The CADHOK statement also critised the "absence of concrete measures" by the UN Security Council in response to the current crisis in the DRC.

DRC-RWANDA: Gisenyi attacked

Rwandan Vice-President and Defense Minister Paul Kagame has accused DRC President Kabila of being behind yesterday's attack on Gisenyi and Goma by Hutu militia, the Rwanda News Agency reported. Speaking to journalists in Kigali today, Kagame was reported as saying that the DRC government had trained and equipped the Hutu fighters but that the Rwandan army had repulsed their attack on Gisenyi. Rwanda "will not sit by and watch while Congo destabilises us," Kagame said.

KENYA: MPs petition government on NGOs

Twelve Muslim MPs asked the Kenyan government to reconsider the de-registration of sixteen NGOs operating in Kenya. The mainly Muslim NGOs have been asked to stop activities and some expatriate officials have been given seven days to leave. Some other NGOs have protested that the actions by the NGO Coordination Board did not follow due procedure, local newspapers report. The Kenyan Supreme Council of Muslims (SUPKEM) called a meeting of imams and other Muslim leaders today to plan further action. The NGOs came under suspicion after the huge bomb blast at the US Embassy in Nairobi last month.

UGANDA: Bomb warnings close embassies

Several foreign missions in the Ugandan capital Kampala remained closed yesterday (Monday), thanks to bomb threats, the official 'New Vision' and independent 'Monitor' report. Embassies or high commisions of the USA, UK, Denmark, and other countries and institutions remained closed due to a spate of bomb threats, the paper said.

Nairobi, 15 August 1998, 14:30 GMT


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