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War and Peace


The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Angola has appealed to the authorities to guarantee the safety of refugees and humanitarian workers after reports of ongoing harassment of Congolese refugees at a camp near the capital, Luanda.

UNHCR spokeswoman Delphine Marie on October 13 confirmed that the 300 refugees at Sungui camp in Bengo province, 72 km north of Luanda, had allegedly been harassed over the last three months.

She said the latest incident happened on October 12. "There has been at least three incidents that we are aware of. The latest happened on Sunday evening when a group of armed men entered the camp. They fired shots in the air and then stole some equipment from a container belonging to INTERSOS, (UNHCR's implementing partner at the camp)."

A dispute over land allocation lay at the heart of the problem, Marie explained. UNHCR was allocated the land, to be used for agricultural development by refugees, after the end of the war in April 2002. About 300 refugees were relocated to Sungui in May.

"There appears to be some confusion over who the land belongs to. We appeal to the different ministries responsible for land allocation to clarify this matter. There was an incident where an individual entered the camp with a tractor and claimed the land for his own agricultural use. This caused a lot of tension. It is important that the refugees feel safe - any feeling of insecurity may affect the overall agricultural revival programme," Marie said. (Source: IRIN)


UN has launched an investigation to find those responsible for the killing of 16 civilians, primarily women, during an attack on 6 October on the village of Ndunda, 30 km north of the town of Uvira, South Kivu Province, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, reported on October 10 that witnesses said the victims were killed with axes, machetes, clubs, knives and other crude weapons. MONUC said that two survivors were being treated at Uvira Hospital, while four others remained missing.

Witnesses told MONUC that the killings were carried out by a group of 20 who spoke Kirundi, the national language of neighbouring Burundi. The witnesses said that some of the assailants were wearing Burundian military uniforms, while others were wearing sports clothing.

Some of the witnesses told MONUC that they believed the attackers belonged to Burundi s Forces pour la defense de la democratie, the armed wing of the Conseil national pour la defense de la democratie rebel group, reported to be active in the area. The faction of another Burundian rebel group, the Forces nationals de liberation, however, is also reported to operate in the area.

"MONUC strongly condemns this hateful act and reaffirms the commitment of the international community to bring an end to impunity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," the UN mission said in a statement. (Source: IRIN)


Eritrea on October 13 dismissed allegations by Ethiopia that it is sponsoring "terrorist" groups in the country. Most of the terrorist attacks and attempts committed against our people and country were executed by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Al-Ittihad, surrogates and proxy agents of the rogue regime in Eritrea," the Ethiopian information ministry said in a statement.

The fact that OLF is still surrogate and proxy in the subversive service of the Eritrean regime is a vivid testimony of its final bankruptcy leading to its death throes, it added. But the Eritrean ambassador to Ethiopia, Salih Omer, dismissed the allegations.

We have nothing to do with such acts, he said. He added that Eritrea was the first country to back the African Union convention to fight terrorism. We urge other countries to join us in that fight, he stated.

Ethiopia's accusations come amid increasing tension over the impending demarcation of the border with Eritrea. The government's statement called on the Ethiopian public to remain vigilant. P The US has launched widespread security operations in the Horn of Africa as part of the war on terror against al-Qaeda militants who may be operating in the region. (Source: IRIN)


In Okrika, a small town near Nigeria's oil industry capital, Port Harcourt, two local chieftains had by inconvenient coincidence scheduled funerals of relatives on the same day in September.

When efforts to get one or the other to move his event to another date failed, their rival supporters engaged in a shootout, using automatic rifles that included AK-47s. Three people died.

Earlier in August, a disagreement between Ijaw communities in the same Niger Delta region had resulted in gunmen from Ogbodobiri and Oboro raiding the Ekeremor community, razing scores of buildings and shooting dead at least 10 people.

Rights activists and security agencies worry that the Niger Delta for long a centre of discontent among impoverished communities feeling cheated out of the region's oil wealth by government and oil companies - is awash with small weapons.

Residents in the area resort to the gun even over minor communal disputes, leading to ever increasing insecurity that manifests as armed robbery and piracy on the regions innumerable waterways. (Source: IRIN)


Deep-rooted differences on the future status of Southern Blue Nile, Abyei and the Nuba mountains are emerging at peace talks taking place in Naivasha, Kenya. Representatives from the government of Sudan and the three areas exchanged position papers on the three areas last week, Malik Agar Eyre, SPLM commander and Governor of Southern Blue Nile region said.

He said the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) was expecting an "elaborated" response from the government delegation, which would address the detailed rebel demands.

"It would be unfair to say progress has been made, and it would be unfair to say that no progress has been made," said Eyre. Both sides were "leveling the ground" by stating their positions and trying to reach a consensus on minor issues before the arrival of the Sudanese Vice-President, Ali Osman Taha and the Chairman of the SPLM/A, John Garang, on 16 October.

For Southern Blue Nile and the Nuba mountains, the SPLM/A was demanding the right to self-determination, he said. This meant holding internationally monitored referenda in each region before the end of the six year interim period - following the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement - to decide whether they would belong to northern or southern Sudan.

During the interim period, the SPLM/A was demanding that the two areas be "anchored" under rebel control, but awarded a "special status" and a great deal of autonomy in a decentralised government. Both areas should be allowed their own state constitution, judiciary, legislative and executive powers, security organs, police, and civil service, he said. (Source: IRIN)

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