Publisher: AFP, Agence France Presse
Story date: 10/10/2009
BUJUMBURA, Oct 10, 2009 (AFP)
Officials from Burundi and the DR Congo plan to meet Friday to discuss the fate of a group of Congolese Tutsi refugees after Kinshasa delayed their return to their homeland, a statement said.
"The two delegations have decided to hold, on Friday 16 October, a mini-tripartite meeting of Burundi, DRC and the UNHCR on the refugees from the former Gihinga camp," a statement issued here Sunday after a visit by two Congolese ministers said.
The UNHCR is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Democratic Republic of Congo Foreign Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba and Defence Minister Charles Mwando Nsimba flew into Bujumbura on Saturday to discuss the issue with their Burundian counterparts.
DR Congo on Thursday shut a checkpoint at Kavimvira, which borders Burundi, in a bid to prevent the some 2,300 Tutsi refugees from returning to the country.
Kinshasa said the closure of the border was only "temporary" so officials could be better prepared for their eventual return.
The refugees had initially resisted being moved to a new location, but agreed to move to a temporary camp on Saturday after a meeting with Burundi's Vice President Yves Sahinguvu.
"He told us that Congo is not yet ready to receive us and that we have to go to the camp," said Freddy Gakunzi, the leader of the stranded refugees.
"We expressed our concerns to him but he really guaranteed our security and so we have agreed to move to the camp at Bwagiriza," 180 kilometres (120 miles) east of the capital Bujumbura.
The transfer to Bwagiriza took place Saturday and Sunday.
Many Congolese Tutsis fled from the Sud-Kivu province of DR Congo in 2004 to escape persecution from Hutu rebels operating there.
Publisher: AFP, Agence France Presse
Story date: 10/10/2009
BUJUMBURA, 10 octobre 2009 (AFP) Des réfugiés tutsi congolais empêchés de rentrer en République démocratique du Congo (RDC) ont annoncé samedi avoir finalement accepté leur relogement dans un camp de l'est du Burundi, à partir de ce jour même, selon les autorités burundaises.
Ils venaient de rencontrer le premier vice-président burundais, Yves Sahinguvu, qui leur a "garanti la sécurité".
"Nous venons de recevoir le premier vice-président de la République. Il nous a dit que le Congo n'était pas prêt à nous accueillir et qu'il fallait donc aller dans le camp de Ruyigi (province de Ruyigi), nous lui avons parlé de nos inquiétudes, mais il nous a tellement garanti notre sécurité que nous avons accepté d'aller dans le camp de Bwagiriza ( 180 km à l'est de la capitale)", a déclaré Freddy Gakunzi, le président des réfugiés tutsi congolais du camp de Mwaro (centre).
Le premier vice-président a fait le déplacement pour "convaincre les réfugiés congolais qui s'y trouvent d'aller à Ruyigi pour leur bien", a expliqué à l'AFP Didace Nzikoruriho, coordinateur de l'Office burundais chargé des réfugiés (OFPRA).
"Une partie des réfugiés sera acheminée dans le camp de Bwagiriza dès cet après-midi et le reste suivra demain matin", a-t-il précisé.
Jeudi, les autorités congolaises avaient fermé le poste frontière de Kavimvira, frontalier avec le Burundi, pour empêcher le retour de quelque 2.300 réfugiés tutsi congolais, organisé par Bujumbura.
Kinshasa avait justifié cette fermeture "provisoire" en expliquant vouloir "préparer" et "mieux encadrer" ce rapatriement.
"Nous nous demandons pourquoi est-ce que le gouvernement congolais refuse de nous (banyamulenge) recevoir alors que des réfugiés congolais issus d'autres tribus rentrent au Congo chaque jour, sans aucun problème?", s'est demandé M. Gakunzi.
Vendredi, le Burundi avait menacé de déplacer par la force, vers un camp de l'est du pays, ces réfugiés tutsi parce qu'il ne pouvait pas "laisser des gens prendre une décision aussi irresponsable que de rentrer dans un pays (.) où leur gouvernement déclare qu'il n'est pas prêt à les accueillir", a expliqué le ministre de la Sécurité, le général Alain Guillaume Bunyoni.
Au moins deux ministres congolais sont arrivés à Bujumbura samedi en vue de "traiter de cette question", a annoncé le général Bunyoni, sans autre précision.
Les réfugiés, ayant en grande majorité fui la province du Sud-Kivu (est de la RDC) en 2004 et actuellement installés à Mwaro, avaient souhaité rentrer dans leur pays d'origine après avoir refusé d'être transférés dans un nouveau camp dans l'est, invoquant des raisons de sécurité.
Ils s'étaient affrontés à deux reprises aux forces de l'ordre qui tentaient de les en empêcher et de les transférer dans le nouveau camp.
Lundi, le HCR avait conseillé "aux réfugiés congolais au Burundi de ne pas retourner pour le moment" dans leur région d'origine, "du fait des conditions de sécurité actuelles".
La question des Tutsis congolais du Sud-Kivu --plus connus sous le nom de Banyamulenge-- est très sensible dans la région, en particulier dans la ville frontalière d'Uvira, où le ressentiment anti-Tutsi est encore très vivace.
Publisher: BBC News
Author: By Will Ross, BBC News, Eldoret
Story date: 10/10/2009
A Kenyan deadline expires on Friday for people displaced by post-election violence to leave their camps.
Two weeks ago President Mwai Kibaki ordered the closure of the camps, which at the peak of the violence were home to around 500,000 people.
But more than a year-and-a-half later there are Kenyans still living in tents some of whom are reluctant to leave.
Stanley Wanyoike said he will only leave if the president keeps his promise to give them land.
"We are ready to leave if the promise made by the head of state is fulfilled," said Mr Wanyoike, who was forced to flee his home with his wife and five children on 30 December 2007 the night President Kibaki was controversially declared the winner of the election.
"That is being given a place to settle some land. We are waiting to hear if we are to get land."
Early last year the agricultural showground in the town of Eldoret was home to almost 25,000 people. Less than 2,000 remain.
Each family has been offered 35,000 Kenyan shillings (about $470, £290) for leaving but to receive the money they have to dismantle their tent.
Tent is a generous word for leaky structures which are made out of shabby pieces of plastic sheeting and old sacks.
"I sleep in my small tent with my six children," said Elizabeth Wanja, who like almost all those in the camp is from the Kikuyu ethnic group and had fled attacks from Kalenjin neighbours.
Kikuyus were seen as supporters of President Kibaki, who is from that community, while his rival Raila Odinga was backed by ethnic Kalejins and Luos.
Safety in numbers
In Mrs Wanja's tent is one thin mattress, a few pots and pans, a handful of clothes and a radio.
"The government says you can't be given that money unless you pull down the tent. But if you pull down the tent you don't have anywhere to go. So you are confused."
Many of the residents said they feared returning to the communities from where they were chased and wanted to be given a large piece of land so they could settle in a fairly large group safety in numbers being the preferred security option.
During his visit to Kenya this week former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan lamented how Kenyans were still in camps so long after the signing of a peace deal which he had mediated.
Critics suggest some Kenyan politicians have been far more focused on protecting themselves than helping the plight of those whose lives were shattered by the violence some of which was instigated by politicians.
No forcible evictions
"The Showground in Eldoret is the only IDP [internally displaced person] camp left in Kenya," the minister for special programmes Naomi Shaban told the BBC.
"The government is still in the process of acquiring land to settle the IDPs on. I don't think the process could have been done any faster as it is an extremely complicated exercise," said the minister, who added that she could not state categorically whether or not the remaining IDPs in Eldoret's Showground would be given land.
She dismissed the possibility of them being forcefully removed from the camp as the deadline expired.
Walking amongst the ramshackle tents Mrs Wanja's daughter, Sonny, was hoping she would soon be back in school.
"We just stay here like animals because when the rain comes there is water in the tent. We don't have food, we don't have clothes and we don't go to school," said 11-year-old Sonny, who remembers the day she fled her home.
"They burnt our house. They killed my father they slashed him like grass and put him in a dam."
"We cannot go anywhere because we need somewhere we can stay. President Mwai Kibaki said they will give us land. I have not seen the land yet."
There are those who feel progress is being achieved.
'Bury the hatchet'
"One year nine months down the line people are running their lives as normal a bigger percentage of them," said Robert Odhiambo of the International Organization of Migration (IOM), which has helped build more than 4,000 new homes for people affected by the violence.
"So maybe for this small percentage that's remaining we need to find out exactly, individual by individual, what's the real reason why somebody's not going back."
Although in some areas tensions still exist, the IOM has had some success in ensuring there is some mixing of rival ethnic groups in the Rift Valley.
"You have community A and community B coming together to reconstruct the burnt hut, so it is a little bit like burying the hatchet."
Resettling around 500,000 Kenyans whose lives were uprooted was always going to be a mammoth task and remains work in progress.
Worryingly, it is not the only enormous hurdle that needs to be overcome Kenya is in desperate need of reconciliation and justice in order to prevent a repeat of the violence at the next election, due in 2012.
Publisher: The Guardian
Author: Xan Rice in Nairobi
Story date: 10/10/2009
Hundreds of Kenyan youths have been recruited by Somalia's beleaguered government to cross the border and fight Islamist rebels, according to authorities in eastern Kenya.
Residents of Garissa, home to many ethnic Somalis, said the Kenyan army was facilitating the enlistment. Reports in the local media said that young men aged between 18 and 30 were being offered salaries of at least £250 a month to join President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's forces.
"The recruitment is not a secret," Mohamed Gabow, the mayor of Garissa, told Reuters. "Those involved are not worried. They are going around all the villages to announce the exercise".
He said more than 170 Kenyan Somalis, some with military experience, had been transported at night to an army camp in Mombasa. Local human rights activists said as many as 300 men had been recruited, with some already deployed to Somalia. Local leaders, as well as the Council of Imans and Preachers of Kenya, have demanded an explanation from the Kenyan government.
Kenya is a key ally of Ahmed's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and has watched with increasing concern as Islamist groups such as al-Shabab have taken control of southern and central Somalia and launched brazen kidnapping raids across the border.
Bogita Ongeri, a spokesman for the defence department in Nairobi, said he had received reports that the rebel militias had been recruiting Somali youths in refugee camps in Kenya, but denied the army was involved in enlisting Kenyans on behalf of the TFG.
"We are not involved in any such recruitment and training of youth to go and fight in Somalia. That is absolute propaganda. Why would we do that?" he told the Daily Nation newspaper.
Somalia's information minister, Dahir Mohamud Gelle, also denied that Kenyans were being signed up to fight for the TFG.
At a meeting in April, donors pledged £135m to help Ahmed establish a 5,000-member security force and 10,000-strong police service in Somalia. While the US has since sent weapons to the TFG, less than a third of the donor money has been received.
The Islamist militias would have overrun the government long ago had it not been for the presence of African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu.
Refugees Global Press Review
Compiled by Media Relations and Public Information Service, UNHCR
For UNHCR Internal Distribution