Rwanda + 5 more

IRIN-CEA Weekly Round-up 50 covering the period 11 - 17 December 1999

News and Press Release
Originally published
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RWANDA: UN strongly criticised on inaction during genocide

An independent enquiry into the UN's role during the 1994 genocide, released on Thursday, concluded that the UN failed the people of Rwanda and should have apologised more clearly, more frankly and much earlier. The enquiry team, headed by former Swedish premier Ingvar Carlsson, found a "lack of political leadership, lack of military capacity, severe problems of command and control, and lack of coordination and discipline" in the UN's response. The mission, with 2,500 troops, should have been able to limit the massacres, the enquiry team said. The peacekeeping department, then headed by Annan, also came in for criticism for not delivering "a more assertive response" in the face of genocide. [full report available at <>]

RWANDA: Secretary-General accepts report findings

Kofi Annan, who commissioned the investigation, said he fully accepted the findings of the enquiry team, "including those which reflect on officials of the UN Secretariat, of whom I myself was one". He acknowledged the UN's failure in Rwanda and expressed his deep remorse. "Of all my aims as Secretary-General, there is none to which I feel more deeply committed than that of enabling the UN never again to fail in protecting a civilian population from genocide or mass slaughter," he added.

RWANDA: Kigali calls for personal apology from Annan

Rwanda has called on Kofi Annan to travel to Kigali and apologise in person for the UN's failure to prevent the 1994 genocide. "We expect the Secretary-General to come here to personally offer his apologies and those of the UN," Minister in the President's Office Patrick Mazimhaka told the BBC. "We hope he will take the trouble because he was in charge at the time."

RWANDA: Students claim ruling party "politicising" education

One of 42 Rwandan university students who have fled to Uganda and sought asylum there, citing their fear of political persecution in Rwanda, on Wednesday criticised the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) for "politicising" an academic issue. In an interview with the BBC Kinyarwanda service, the student said the government was about to jail them because they had refused to study in French. "They started to say we were working with the MDR (the Hutu Mouvement democratique republicain) ... started to call us Interahamwe," the student said. The UNHCR has declined to assist the students in their asylum bid, saying it could find no indication that they would be persecuted in Rwanda. Regional analysts told IRIN the issue was significant because "for the first time there are Tutsi casualties of government policy".

BURUNDI: Tanzania asked to arrest Rutana killers

The Burundi government has identified nine assailants whom it maintains were responsible for murdering seven Burundians and two international UN workers during a visit to displaced people at Muzye in Rutana province in October. Justice Minister Terence Sinunguruza told journalists on Wednesday the attackers were members of the rebel Forces de defense pour la democratie (FDD) who had returned to rear bases in Tanzania. He said the government had called on the international community and the Tanzanian government to arrest the nine, whose names were given in the report. Spokesman for the rebel CNDD-FDD, Jerome Ndiho, rejected the report and called for an international investigation. In an interview with the BBC Kirundi service, he repeated CNDD-FDD's accusations that the government was responsible for the killings. "A person cannot be accused, investigator and judge at the same time," he said.

BURUNDI: Rebel attacks reportedly diminishing in parts

Rebel attacks in some parts of the country are said to have lessened, although the number of military operations and rebel retaliation in the south is still very high, according to humanitarian sources. Fighting is reported to have reduced in Bujumbura Rural, as have rebel attacks on the capital Bujumbura. In the north, sporadic clashes have been reported, attributed to rebels on their way to the Kibira forest from Tanzania.

BURUNDI: Kirundo badly affected by drought

Severe drought in the country during the September-October planting time has badly affected the provinces of Kirundo, Gitega, Ruyigi, Cankuzo, Karuzi, Muyinga, Rutana and Makamba, the sources said. The situation is particularly alarming in Kirundo, where WFP has already distributed 420 mt of food to 52,000 people. Food prices in the province have risen significantly and an urgent mobilisation of food inputs will be needed for the 2000B season.

BURUNDI: Cholera reported in some camps

A cholera outbreak has been reported in some civilian regroupment camps in Burundi. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said there have been five deaths and 125 cases reported at the cholera treatment centre in Kabezi camp as of 14 December since 20 November. OCHA said cases had also been reported in other camps such as Ruziba, Ruyaga and Mubone. "It is still not yet of great concern, although if the cases increase it can get quite serious," an OCHA official told IRIN. Medecins Sans Frontieres has set up a cholera camp in Ruziba, an MSF official in Nairobi confirmed on Friday. There were also reports of potential cholera epidemics in other camps, but MSF could not go to there to confirm them until an epidemic was officially declared by the ministry of health or the WHO, the agency said.

DRC: Masire considering mediator's job

Former Botswanan president Ketumile Masire is considering whether to accept the job of mediator in the DRC conflict. He told the BBC he had not put himself forward for the job and had not expected to be chosen. On Wednesday, OAU Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim formally nominated Masire, saying that both the rebel sides and President Laurent-Desire Kabila were in favour of his mediation. Salim said this agreement between the various sides "constitutes an important breakthrough" in efforts to implement the Lusaka ceasefire accord.

DRC: Rebel groups to meet in Uganda

The three Congolese rebel groups were due to meet late this week in the southwestern Ugandan town of Kabale, according to RCD rebel-controlled Uvira radio. The Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD), the RCD-Mouvement de liberation (RCD-ML) and the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) would each send seven representatives to Kabale for talks on power-sharing and the merging of rebel troops to create a united front, ahead of the national dialogue, it said. Rwandan and Ugandan envoys are also expected to attend.

DRC: UNITA attacks reported in Bas-Congo

An increasing number of security incidents involving retreating UNITA forces from Angola have been reported in the western Bas-Congo province, humanitarian sources told IRIN. This follows an offensive by the Angolan government which has caused the UNITA rebels to flee. A health centre, supported by an international NGO, came under attack and one civilian died, the sources said. They expressed fear that the heightened insecurity in Bas Congo - one of the major food producing areas - could further affect the availability of food in Kinshasa's markets.

DRC: UN asked to deploy in eight sites of concern

The Joint Military Commission (JMC), established to implement the Lusaka ceasefire, has called on all parties to the agreement who have not done so "to ensure their effective presence and participation in the regional JMCs". This follows claims, particularly from Zimbabwe, that Rwanda and Congolese rebel groups had not contributed personnel to the regional JMCs at Kabinda and Boende because of "continuing attempts at gaining more territory".

DRC: JMC tackles Ikela flashpoint

A special committee of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) this week started "looking into practical means for the disengagement of forces" in the DRC, the Zambian chairman of the committee, Brigadier-General Timothy Kazembe told IRIN on Tuesday. The mission would focus particularly on the current flashpoint at Ikela airport, Equateur Province - where forces allied to President Laurent-Desire Kabila are trying to force their way through to Zimbabwean troops trapped behind rebel lines by the Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie (RCD) - during top-level meetings in Kinshasa, Kampala, Kigali, Gbadolite and Goma, Kazembe said. The committee would also look at the broader disengagement of opposing forces and the best means to avoid ceasefire violations, he added.

DRC: "Next few weeks critical", says US

US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke said in the US on Monday, on his return after Washington's highest-level mission ever to focus overwhelmingly on the Great Lakes, that the Lusaka peace process was at a crucial stage. "The next few weeks are going to be quite critical," Holbrooke said, adding that the US would "make Africa the priority of the month" when it held the presidency of the UN Security Council in January.

TANZANIA: Burundi refugee flow slowing but still steady

The number of new refugees arriving from Burundi over the last week of October and the first week of December totalled 3,260, with the influx decreasing but still steady, the latest emergency report from the WFP stated. Some 670 newly-arrived Burundians were registered in Myovosi camp in Kasulu over the two-week period ending 5 December, while a steady flow of refugees into Kigoma, Kasulu, Kibondo and Ngara Districts brought the total to around 3,260, WFP added." The international NGO Oxfam warned of increasing malaria deaths in some of the camps, and of food shortages in drought-affected communities in Shinyanga and Ngorogoro.

UGANDA: Security strengthened after ADF attacks

The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) have deployed additional troops and tightened security in the west after an upsurge in attacks in Bundibugyo and Kabarole districts in the last week by the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Two more battalions of about 1,000 men would be deployed in Kabarole, the semi-official 'New Vision' on Friday quoted Ugandan Chief of Staff Brigadier James Kazini as saying. Analysts noted that the intensified ADF campaign came in the wake of last week's peace deal signed in Nairobi by the presidents of Sudan and Uganda. The Ugandan authorities believe Sudan has been supplying and training the ADF rebels, whose core group are Tabliq Muslims.

UGANDA: WFP suspends food deliveries in Bundibugyo

WFP has temporarily halted its food deliveries in Bundibugyo following the spate of ADF attacks, WFP's reports officer Alzira Ferreira told IRIN on Tuesday. "We have not officially suspended our operations in the area," she said. "Although we have relocated our staff from Bundibugyo to Fort Portal because of the attacks last week, we are hoping to resume deliveries as soon as we have security guarantees from the government," she said. Ferreira said there were reports that many people were moving into Bundibugyo and Nyahuka towns from the mountains.

UGANDA: Rebel leaders to be relocated from Sudan

Eight of the 24 top commanders of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), including its leader Joseph Kony, are to be relocated later this month from Sudan to countries of their choice, the 'New Vision' reported on Thursday. It said the eight had already been separated from their fighters and captives in camps outside the southern Sudanese city of Juba. The paper also said that at least 200 captives in Sudan, most of them girls, would be among a first group of abducted people returned to Uganda. The move follows a peace agreement signed in Nairobi recently between the presidents of Uganda and Sudan.

KENYA: Parallel processes set up to review constitution

Two rival processes were set up on Wednesday to review Kenya's constitution. Some 89 members of parliament and 21 opposition members set up a select committee to review the "defective" constitution of Kenya review act, the state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) said. At the same time, a meeting called by the religious community to revive the stalled constitution process also launched its own review, to be spearheaded by the clergy. The Kenyan constitutional review process - which was passed by parliament after consultations with "stakeholders" including legislators,á representatives of religious organisations and civil society - hit a snag when the ruling party KANU (Kenya African National Union) rescinded a decision that these representatives would collect views from members of the public. A protracted war of words has gone on for over eight months and the review process is currently deadlocked, with KANU insisting that it be handled by parliament. Civil society and religious groups, for their part, want a "people-driven" constitution.

GREAT LAKES: Warning over critical food shortages

The FAO has warned that a critical food shortage still looms over the Great Lakes region due to ongoing civil conflict. In a press release issued on Wednesday, the FAO said food supply difficulties in Burundi had intensified because of the recent escalation of violence in some parts of the country.á It forecast that the current tight food situation would deteriorate in the coming months. In DRC, civil strife had left some 10 million people "uncertain of their next meal", the report warned. Both countries, along with Rwanda, were in the top 15 facing food emergencies.

Nairobi, 17 December 1999, 13:15 gmt


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