IRIN Update No. 569 for Central and Eastern Africa

Report
from IRIN
Published on 17 Dec 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

RWANDA: Continued aid needed for 500,000 displaced in northwest

Continuing assistance is required for 500,000 displaced people in northwest Rwanda. They are living without proper shelter, access to clean water, adequate medical services and opportunities to farm their land, a statement from OCHA-Rwanda received by IRIN said. It warned that children, women heads of households, elderly and handicapped, figure prominently among the displaced. Their special needs must be met, in addition to those of the general displaced population, the statement said. It added that large movements of people into and out of temporary camps in the region is continuing. UN agencies have provided advice to the government on the dispersion and improved management of the temporary camps.

Donor dilemma over displaced camps

Meanwhile, a Western diplomat recently in Rwanda told IRIN today (Thursday) that the situation of displaced people in northwestern Rwanda was "a dilemma for everybody". He described doubts amongst aid donors and NGOs about the voluntary nature of the camps and future Rwandan government plans for the northwestern populations. UN plans are restricted only to "life-sustaining assistance", but the source said some donors were concerned that they were being approached to "subsidise a Rwandan programme of villagisation." Referring to the lack of choices the displaced people had, he said they "were effectively made an offer they couldn't refuse by the army."

Soldier throws grenade at prisoners, kills two

Two inmates were killed and 34 wounded when a Rwandan soldier detonated a grenade in Kigali's Gikondo prison, AFP reported today. It cited a source close to the justice ministry who said the attack took place on Monday when the junior officer, a genocide survivor, lobbed the grenade into a group of prisoners he was guarding. The soldier then killed himself, the source said.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: OAU summit opens

DRC President Laurent-Desire Kabila was among more than a score of African leaders who have arrived in Ouagadougou for the two-day OAU summit beginning today, news organisations reported. A rebel delegation has also arrived in the Burkina Faso capital for talks on the fringes of the summit of the OAU's central mechanism for conflict prevention, management and settlement. According to a draft agenda of the meeting, conflicts in the DRC, Burundi, Guinea Bissau, the Comoros and the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, are to be discussed.

At the opening ceremony, Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore, who is the current OAU chairman, said leaders "would be very attentive to an assessment put forward by Zambian President Frederick Chiluba" on resolving the crisis in the DRC.

Meanwhile, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos hosted talks in Luanda with his pro-Kinshasa allies Zimbabwe and Namibia ahead of the OAU summit, AFP reported today. The meeting with presidents Robert Mugabe and Sam Nujoma was held behind closed doors and no details were released. Also present was Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano.

CONGO-BRAZZAVILLE: Concern over humanitarian situation in Pool

Concern is growing over the humanitarian situation in the Pool region due to the impact of insecurity, looting and population displacement since October, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Dominique AitOuyahia McAdams said. Civilian populations who fled their towns have been living in forests, where access to food and basic health services is very limited, McAdams told IRIN. "As it has been raining, it is feared that children and the elderly in particular must be in very poor condition," McAdams said.

Continuing insecurity, however, has prevented UN agencies from reaching the area to assess the situation or provide relief assistance to affected populations, she said. The situation has also seriously affected the current agricultural season in Pool, McAdams added.

About 7,000 displaced people from Pool had so far been registered by church groups in Brazzaville, where they are living with local families, according to humanitarian sources. Most of the displaced are children and some are in poor nutritional condition, the sources said.

Fresh clashes lead to further displacement

A further influx of civilians into Brazzaville from Pool was reported to be taking place since yesterday as a result of new clashes between security forces and Ninja militia allied to former prime minister Bernard Kolelas, news agencies said. Fighting was reported on Sunday in the Linzolo area, some 30 km southwest of Brazzaville, and sporadic heavy weapons fire was heard coming from the area yesterday and today, they said.

More government troops, supported by Angolan soldiers, have been deployed to Pool and roads to the region have been sealed off, news agencies said. "We have asked the civilian population to leave the area to permit authorities to proceed with the mopping-up operations," AP today quoted an army spokesman as saying.

SUDAN: Malnutrition down, but crisis continues

While the nutritional situation has improved significantly in Bahr al-Ghazal, child malnutrition rates in several locations remain "unacceptably high," UNICEF said today. In a press release received by IRIN, UNICEF said a survey conducted in 10 areas of Bahr al-Ghazal in September/October found an average global malnutrition rate of 28.6 percent, down from 52.7 percent in May/June. "The improvements are due to prompt nutrition intervention programmes established by UNICEF, WFP and the NGOs after the July ceasefire," OLS official Ted Chaiban said in the statement. However, the statement added that a renewed outbreak of fighting or lack of access to arable land, livestock, food or medical assistance could reverse the progress made during the last several months.

African countries urged to tackle refugee issues

A three-day OAU conference on refugees, returnees and displaced persons ended in Khartoum on Monday with a call on African countries to tackle the root causes of the problem, PANA news agency reported. An 18-point 'Khartoum Declaration', adopted by 42 participating countries, expressed grave concern over the continent's refugee problems and called for measures to strengthen refugee protection. The declaration also expressed concern over the presence of "armed elements" among civilian refugees and stressed they should be separated in the camps.

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Three said killed in Ethiopian shelling

Three people were reportedly killed and 24 wounded when Ethiopian shells hit the Eritrean border town of Tsorona, about 85 km south of Asmara, AP said today quoting witness accounts. The shelling, which was said to have occurred on Monday, threatens to increase tension between the two countries whose border dispute is due to be discussed at the OAU summit in Burkina Faso, AP noted. There has been no official confirmation of the incident.

Eritrea meanwhile has acquired a number of Russian MiG-29 fighter planes, AP reported. It said the planes were seen flying over Asmara this week, as officials from the Russian Aviation Production Ministry visited the Eritrean capital. AP recalled that earlier this month, Russia struck a deal to sell Ethiopia fighter jets, combat helicopters and other military hardware. Analysts say both sides have been importing millions of dollars worth of weaponry as well as reinforcing troops.

[ends]

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