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Posts tagged ‘Kinshasa’

Nigerian Security Operatives Briefly Detain Ukrainian Cargo Plane At Kano Airport.

By SaharaReporters, New York

There was temporary excitement on Saturday night at the Mallam Aminu International Airport (MAKIA) in Kano as security operatives impounded a Ukraiinian aircraft which was found to be carrying sophisticated military weapons.

A SaharaReporters source said the nine members of the crew were detained for more than ten hours as investigations were undertaken.

Efforts to obtain comments about the impounded plane from the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) were rebuffed, but our source disclosed that the investigations revealed the plane’s destination to be Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that the aircraft had landed in Kano to refuel.
With the conclusion of investigations, the flight and the crew were released on Sunday afternoon.

In a related incident in July 2012, a Ukrainian plane carrying sophisticated weapons was also impounded at MAKIA.  It was subsequently discovered that the weapons were heading for Equatorial Guinea.

At Least 20 Killed When Mine Collapses in Eastern Congo.

KINSHASADemocratic Republic of Congo — At least 20 people were killed when a mine collapsed in mineral-rich but conflict-plagued eastern Democratic Republic of Congo following heavy rains, the government said on Friday.

The accident occurred on Thursday at the mine near the village of Rubaye in the country’s North Kivu province. Local officials were attempting to recover bodies still believed buried on Friday.

“We’re still digging at the site, so the death toll could rise. The provincial government is handling the rescue,” government spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters.

Congo’s eastern borderlands have some of the world’s largest deposits of tin ore and coltan, which is used in electronic devices like mobile phones and video game consoles.

But the region is a patchwork of rebel and militia fiefdoms left over from a 1998-2003 civil war that killed millions, and the insecurity has discouraged large-scale industrial mining.

Rampant poverty has pushed hundreds of thousands of Congolese to work in unregulated smaller mines, often controlled by armed groups, where fatal accidents are commonplace.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Third of children in conflict-ridden Congo denied schooling: U.N.

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Nearly a third of Congolese children are missing out on schooling as conflict, poverty, and weak governance take their toll, according to a study from the United Nations.

Democratic Republic of Congo is recovering from decades of dictatorship and two wars that left millions dead and the country’s infrastructure in ruins.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes in areas of ongoing rebel conflict, such as North Kivu province, and live in makeshift camps.

The study, begun in 2010 by the U.N. bodies for children and education, UNICEF and UNESCO, found that more than 7.3 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 do not go to school.

The problem is worst in North Kivu, where there are myriad armed groups and the government is struggling to control the latest in a series of uprisings; and in Katanga province, the country’s most productive mining region.

Poverty plays a major role, the study found, with half of all children in typical households that live on less than $50 a month not attending school. Among much richer families, where the income tops $500 per month, the figure falls to less than 2 percent.

The failure of the state to adequately fund the education sector means, on average, families have to spend more than a tenth of their income to send children to school, said the report which was released on Friday.

This is in a country where most people live on less than a dollar a day.

There is also persistent gender inequality, the study found, with girls’ education opportunities often reduced by marriage and pregnancy during schooling years.

The report said the problem of children missing out on education was worst in provinces of high mining activity or recurrent conflict.

It did not explain why the problem was more pronounced in mining areas, though human rights advocates have said child labor in the mining sector is widespread.

Congo, which is two-thirds the size of western Europe, is Africa‘s second-largest copper producer and exported about half a million metric tons last year.

Despite its mineral riches, including significant deposits of gold, diamonds and tin, the country has been described by the United Nations as the least developed on earth.

(Reporting by Jonny Hogg; Editing by Pravin Char)



EU freezes aid to Rwanda over Congo rebel claims.

KINSHASA (Reuters) – The European Union has frozen further budgetary support to Rwanda over allegations that the Central African state supports anti-government rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, the EU’s ambassador to Congo said on Wednesday.

The EU is the latest western partner to impose aid suspensions against Kigali over an independent United Nations report that said Rwanda was behind a six-month rebellion in Congo’s eastern hills, which has forced 470,000 people to flee their homes.

“It was agreed to freeze the program of budgetary assistance and to not agree to any supplementary budgetary credit for Rwanda without them giving signs of co-operating,” Jean-Michel Dumond, the EU’s ambassador in Kinshasa, told the U.N.-backed broadcaster Radio Okapi.

A spokesman for the EU in Brussels had said on Monday that existing projects would continue, but that a decision on additional budget support would be delayed until Rwanda’s role in the unrest is clarified.

Although the scale of cuts was not given, the EU website says that the EU agreed a six-year budget support deal with Kigali in 2009, worth up to 175 million euros ($225 million).

Rwanda has repeatedly denied any involvement with the M23 rebel group in Congo.

Rwanda’s foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo responded to news of the cuts on the social networking site Twitter. “EU suspending ‘new aid’ to Rwanda is either old news or designed to mislead. No such decision has been taken,” she wrote.

Last month President Paul Kagame hit out at donors who cut aid and he launched a so-called “dignity fund” to help to wean the country off its dependence on outside help.

Presidents Kagame and Congo’s Joseph Kabila are due to join a U.N. crisis meeting in New York on Thursday, aimed at trying to find a solution to the problem.

On Monday U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met both leaders to push for a solution, only for Kabila to make indirect reference to Rwanda’s alleged support for M23 in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

Other countries, including the United States, Sweden and the Netherlands have all suspended aid to Rwanda, which relies on donors for about 40 percent of its budget. However, Britain unblocked part of its cash this month, praising the Rwandans for constructively engaging in the search for peace.

Aid agencies say that the situation on the ground remains serious and the U.N.’s refugee agency has called for an additional $40 million to help those displaced by fighting.

Rwanda and Congo have a long history of tensions and Kigali has repeatedly backed armed movements in its neighbor, citing the need to tackle Rwandan rebels who use Congo as a base.

Critics say that Kagame’s government has used its influence to build lucrative political and economic networks in its resource-rich neighbor, with officials and human rights groups saying that minerals continue to be smuggled out of the region through Rwanda. ($1 = 0.7788 euros)

(Additional reporting by Jenny Clover; Editing by Bate Felix and David Goodman)


By Jonny Hogg | Reuters

Fugitive Congo opposition figure heads to France: lawyer.

BUJUMBURA (Reuters) – An opposition figure wanted in the Democratic Republic of Congo on treason charges has left neighboring Burundi, where he had taken refuge, and has gone to France, his lawyer said on Sunday.

Roger Lumbala, a Congolese member of parliament and former rebel, arrived at the South African Embassy in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura earlier this month, seeking asylum.

The government accuses him of helping Rwanda support a rebellion in eastern Congo that has deepened political fissures in the capital Kinshasa, where the government and opposition accuse each other of fanning the flames of the distant war.

The worsening political chaos threatens to undermine President Joseph Kabila‘s ability to push through political and economic reforms in the country – a potential mining and oil giant – after his re-election in flawed polls last year.

“Lumbala left the South African Embassy on Saturday with a Kenya Airways flight and took the direction of France,” lawyer Prosper Niyoyankana told Reuters.

“He was escorted to Bujumbura international airport by officials from the South African Embassy and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR),” he added.

A source at the South African Embassy confirmed the departure. Burundian authorities were not immediately available for comment.

Democratic Republic of Congo said Lumbala’s move to France did not change their desire to bring him back to face charges.

“We still want him to answer in front of Congolese justice … We’re simply re-orientating our request for co-operation towards France,” government spokesman Lambert Mende told Reuters by telephone.

On Thursday, Burundi’s foreign affairs minister asked Congolese authorities to formulate an official demand for the extradition of Lumbala.

(Additional reporting by Jonny Hogg in Kinshasa; Editing by George Obulutsa and Pravin Char)


By Patrick Nduwimana | Reuters

Ebola outbreak out of control in Congo: WHO.

KINSHASA (Reuters) – An Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo risks spreading to major towns if not brought under control soon, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday.

The death toll has more than doubled since last week to 31, including five health workers dying from the contagious virus for which there is no known treatment. Ebola causes massive bleeding and kills up to 90 percent of its victims.

“The epidemic is not under control. On the contrary the situation is very, very serious,” Eugene Kabambi, a WHO spokesman in Congo’s capital Kinshasa told Reuters by telephone.

“If nothing is done now, the disease will reach other places, and even major towns will be threatened,” he said.

The disease has so far struck in the towns of Isiro and Viadana in Orientale province in the north east.

In August, 16 people in neighboring Uganda died of the disease, although health experts said the two epidemics are not connected and have blamed the Congolese outbreak on villagers eating contaminated meat in the forests which cover the region.

(Reporting by Jonny Hogg; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by David Lewis and Robin Pomeroy)



Congo rebels commit widespread rights abuses: HRW.

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo who allegedly are receiving support from neighboring Rwanda have committed widespread war crimes including dozens of rapes and killings, Human Rights Watch said in a report on Tuesday.

Congo’s eastern hills – haunted by armed groups for nearly two decades – have seen six months of bloody clashes after hundreds of soldiers defected from the army, sparking a conflict that has forced at least 220,000 people to flee their homes.

United Nations experts say that Rwandan officials have provided logistical support and troops to the uprising, known as M23, although Kigali strongly rejects the claims.

Allegations of widespread human rights abuses by M23 come as efforts to find a solution to the crisis appear to be stalling, with the U.N.’s peacekeeping head saying the deployment of a neutral force to tackle the rebels remains “only a concept”.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement on Tuesday that at least 33 of M23’s own fighters had been executed for trying to desert, while 15 civilians also had been deliberately killed in rebel held territories since June.

“The M23 rebels are committing a horrific trail of new atrocities in eastern Congo,” Anneke van Woudenberg, HRW’s senior Africa researcher, said.

The rights group said it had based its research on nearly 200 interviews and had uncovered evidence of at least 46 women and girls who had been raped.

One victim said that M23 fighters had burst into her home, beaten her son to death and repeatedly raped her before dousing her legs in petrol and setting her ablaze, the rights group said.

M23 did not respond to telephone calls and messages requesting comments on Monday night, but HRW said that M23’s leader, Colonel Sultani Makenga, denied allegations of human rights abuses, including widespread forced recruitment.

“We recruit our brothers, not by force, but because they want to help us… That’s their decision,” Makenga is quoted as saying.

HRW also said that at least 600 men and boys have been forcibly or unlawfully recruited in neighboring Rwanda, with recruitment continuing after allegations of Rwandan complicity were published in an interim UN report in June.

“The United Nations Security Council should sanction M23 leaders, as well as Rwandan officials who are helping them, for serious rights abuses,” van Woudenberg said.


Rwanda’s leaders have denied any involvement in the M23 rebellion, and have accused the U.N. team behind the report of bias, but that has not stopped several international partners, including the United States and Sweden, from suspending aid to Kigali.

A recent lull in fighting has seen opinions as to the real situation on the ground diverging, with the UK restarting some of its blocked budget support, saying that Rwanda was constructively engaged in the search for a solution.

But in his message to regional leaders at a conference over the weekend, UN secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that the humanitarian situation remained dire, and that he was “deeply concerned by continuing reports of external support to the M23.”

The regional meeting in Kampala, which Rwandan president Paul Kagame did not attend, failed to hammer out the details of a proposed neutral force to police the border between Congo and Rwanda, despite an offer of troops from Tanzania.

On Monday the U.N. under secretary general in charge of peacekeeping poured cold water on the idea of the world body providing direct backing for a neutral force, which has been agreed in principle by both Kinshasa and Kigali.

“I think the concept needs to be fleshed out… I would not think that the security council would be in a position to make a determination just on an idea,” Herve Ladsous told journalists at a press conference in Kinshasa.

(Reporting by Jonny Hogg; Editing by Bate Felix and Michael Roddy)


By Jonny Hogg | Reuters

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