Category Archives: Humanitarian Issues

DR Congo-Rwanda – accusations that DRC officers wives involved in business with Hutu rebels

News of Rwanda/allAfrica

Rwanda: FDLR Generating U.S. $71 Million From Businesses With Wives of DRC Officers

Photo: Radio Okapi

Rwandan soldiers in DR Congo (file photo).

Rwandan FDLR rebels are making millions of dollars annually with help from Congolese army units in the east of the massive country, says a classified MONUSCO document sent to New York.

The militia group calling itself the democratic forces for the liberation of Rwanda or FDLR maintains a large business empire managed by ICC fugitive SylvestreMudacumura and Defence Commissioner, AugustinNsengimana.

To operate without any problems, Congolese army officers provide safe passage for goods which have been supplied to wives of the Congolese officers by FDLR contacts. The Congolese military officers are on the battle-front, but their wives are managing booming businesses.

These never-before details have been compiled in a classified investigation sent to New York last month by the UN mission in DR Congo – or MONUSCO.The MONUSCO document was prepared by the ‘Joint Mission Analysis Cell’ (JMAC) and titled at top in red as “STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL”.

For North Kivu, the FDLR team in charge of making money is called “Miroir” – now based in the Kasugho area (approx. 70 km West of Lubero-Centre), where gold mining is pursued. For South Kivu, unit in charge of money generation, previously known as “Lunette”, was dissolved and was replaced by three liaison offices.

These are called Antennas, says the report.Apart from liaison functions, according to the MONUSCO document, those antennas also play a role in trafficking. The FDLR men responsible for these operations are Col Bonheur in Burhinyi (Mwenga), Lt Maurice in Mulenge (Uvira), and Adjutant Kidumu in Kanyantende (Mwenga).

In North Kivu province alone, the militia – whose members executed the genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda and fled to Congo, has a group in charge of business totalling about 200 combatants.

“A general estimate (of FDLR revenues) arrives at several millions of US dollars. Much of the income is generated through taxation,” says the report.

“Profits are shared between FDLR, FARDC, and local Mayi-Mayi groups. ICCN estimates that illegal fishing and charcoal production annually generate around U$$32million and US$35 million respectively.”

The ICCN is the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature – which is a government agency – also managing the virunga national park, whose director Emmanuel de Merode was ambushed in April by suspected FDLR rebels.

According to the MONUSCO document, an estimated 92% of charcoal used in North Kivu comes from the Virunga National Park supplied by the FDLR. Approximately two FUSO trucks drive down the Kikuku – Sake axis every day, carrying 300 charcoal bags per truck on average.

FDLR sells each bag at around US $15 to businessmen, who, once in Goma, sell them at US $25 to US $30 each. The gross selling price could be around US $9,000 per day. The detail price could be up to US $18,000. Two other trucks are also supplying the Rutshuru – Goma axis each day, generating between US $8 to US $10 for each bag on the FDLR side. The gross selling price could be around US $4,800 to US $9,600 per day.

The FDLR illicit trade involves timber, hemp, illegal fishing, poaching and gold mining.When combined with illegal taxation, the total revenue from these sectorstotals at least $71million annually.

Regarding the hemp (urumogi in Kinyarwanda) production, in the border area of Lubero-Walikaleand in Ruthsuru, enormous amounts of ‘chanvre’ – the local variety of cannabis – are cultivated.The FDLR rebels controls most of the production. The most important fields are situated in the villages of Ikobo, Lusamambo, Bukumbirwa, Buleusa, Miriki, LuofuLusoghaKanandavuko,Lueshe, Mirangi and Kateku.

Every harvest period approximately 10 tons of hemp is being produced. In a year, there are four production seasons. The biggest trade center is located in Miriki on the border of the Luberoand Walikale territories – eastern DRC.

“The principal buyers are wives of FARDC officers. (The FARDC controls the route to Goma via Rutshuru),” says the classified report obtained by News of Rwanda.

“The officers’ wives are the ‘négociants’ (traders) who buy the drugs; their husbands facilitate the transport. The FARDC has been involved in the drugs traffic for a long time.”

The document adds: “The transport is organized during the night. Youngsters, escorted by FDLR elements, carry bags of 60 kilos of hemp on their backs from the villages to the road. The drugs are loaded on trucks and hidden beneath layers of manioc bags. The trucks leave from the towns of Kayna, Kanyabayonga or Kirumba.”

FDLR resource mobilization also focuses on illegal taxation in some mining sites in Itombwe, Burhinyi, and Mukungwe, as well as on small-scale gold trade, the taxation of trade, charcoal, and the culture/exportation of hemp to Uvira – on to Burundi, and Tanzania through Mulenge, and Sange.

FDLR commanders in charge of business operations have reportedly established links with Butembo gold traders, which export their products through Kasindi border post, the third border post in North Kivu. FDLR money-making teams work with officers within FARDC 85th Military Sector hierarchy for obtaining weapons and ammunition supply.

Since November 2013, the ICCN has recorded the killing of five elephants in the general area of Kapopi (North West of Kiwanja) – several kilometres from Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. Poaching networks are involving local poachers, FDLR and FARDC officers.

The classified brief says: “For instance in Kagando area (12 km N of Tongo), the wife of a local FDLR officer receives weapons from FARDC Lt Col Zaire Ndarihoranya (ethnic Hutu from Tongo, ex RCD-G, 1003rd Regt Cmdr in Beni up to January 2014, then called to Kinshasa). Weapons are handed over to a poacher group. When this group has collected enough ivory, the product is sent to Tongo, then Sake, where it is secured and later exported.”

IGAD insists South Sudan opposition signs ceasfire

Sunday Tribune

August 30, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – The chief mediator mediating the peace talks between the two warring parties in South Sudan under the auspices of the African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), has insisted that SPLM In Opposition led by the former vice-president, Riek Machar, did in fact sign the matrix on ceasefire agreement despite dismissal by the rebels.

In a briefing to the press in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, chief mediator Seyoum Mesfin said the two parties had on Sunday signed the matrix for implementation of the cessation of hostilities agreement (CoHA) which they signed since 23 January 2014 and called on them to abide by it and implement it fully.

He said what the rebels were saying was not true, adding they were attempting to renege on the agreement.

“They signed it. Having signed the matrix, if they come days later and say they haven’t signed it, it is just a gimmick exercise,” he told reporters.

Mesfin warned of tough actions by IGAD against the rebel group should they not succumb to the document.

“I advise [the rebel camp]…to play critical role in the resolution of the crisis which has put the lives of millions of South Sudanese at risk. Any violations will be met by robust and decisive action by IGAD, which will take all measures in its power to prevent the humanitarian crisis from deepening,” he said.

The tough comments by the chief mediator, who is Ethiopia’s former minister of foreign affairs, comes days after rebels spokespersons, including the chief negotiator, Gen Taban Deng Gai, dismissed as false the claims by IGAD that they signed the matrix.

The SPLM in Opposition said they neither signed the draft agreement on transitional government of national unity nor signed the ceasefire matrix, explaining that the document they were served with and signed was simply the rededication to the existing cessation of hostilities agreement which did not attach the matrix.

IGAD PLAYS GAMES

The SPLM In Opposition has, however, lashed at the regional bloc trying to mediate the peace process, criticising the body for allegedly resorting to playing unhelpful games after failing to ensure the two parties addressed the root causes of the conflict.

“We have come to understand that IGAD mediation is failing to address the root causes of this conflict and to call spade a spade. They have unfortunately chosen to resort to cunning games as a short cut to a mock peace agreement, which cannot work,” said Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak.

Dak when reached by Sudan Tribune on Saturday further said the regional body attempted to lure the rebel group into signing a document which was not yet agreed, by hiding its content from them.

He further explained that IGAD mediation provided only last page of the draft agreement on transitional government to the opposition leader, Riek Machar, to sign it without showing him the text and when Machar insisted that he wanted to see the contents of the text first, they declined and Machar couldn’t sign it.

He also added that when the two chief negotiators Taban Deng Gai and Nhial Deng Nhial signed the document on rededication to the existing cessation of hostilities agreement there was no matrix attached to it because the rebels made it clear they would not sign it if the foreign troops and rebel groups allied to president Salva Kiir’s government were not withdrawn from South Sudan as stipulated in the agreement.

“Now how come the matrix popped up in the rededication document when it was not there during the signing?” Dak inquired.

IGAD WAR PRETEXT

The rebel leader’s spokesperson accused IGAD of introducing the recent behaviour as a pretext for war against the opposition faction, saying they had the plan to deploy troops to fight for president Kiir and wanted a pretext in order to go to war.

“We suspect that IGAD is failing in the mediation and may be tempted to go for regional war which they may mistakenly think is a cheaper mean to impose fake peace on the people of South Sudan,” he said, adding this will lose more lives and increase the suffering of the people.

Dak said the regional block should now put aside their own interests in the South Sudanese conflict and work for genuine peace that should address the root causes of the crisis.

Mesfin acknowledged that the rebels have grievances on the protocol on agreed principles on transitional arrangements toward resolution of the crisis in South Sudan endorsed by the IGAD leaders last Monday.

The rebels had already contested the method imposed by the mediators saying they should be the moderator not the driving force that takes decisions instead of the warring parties.

They further say that the peace process should first address the root causes of the conflict, and then come to define who will be president or vice-president.

“We said IGAD was trying to put the cart before the horse because the issue of who to lead the transitional government would come later as a by-product of a peace agreement between the parties,” Dak said.

The violence erupted on 15 December in Juba when political debates within the ruling SPLM party turned violent, with Kiir and Machar becoming leading rivals.

Ugandan troops (UPDF) were immediately deployed to help restore stability and protect president Kiir’s leadership from collapse.

Machar’s opposition group said they would not sign the ceasefire matrix unless all foreign forces allied to president Kiir’s government, including the UPDF were fully withdrawn from South Sudan’s soil.

Seyoum Mesfin (L), chairperson of IGAD meditors, and Taban Deng Gai, SPLM In Opposition chief negotiator, attend the resumption of South Sudan talks in Addis Ababa on 11 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

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http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article52232

Kenya – ICC’s Bensouda given one week by court to say if she can prosecute Kenyatta

Capital FM/allAfrica

Photo: IRFJ

International Criminal Courct Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda (file photo)

Nairobi — The International Criminal Court (ICC) Trial Chamber V (b) has given Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda up to Friday next week to state if she is prepared to start President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case.

The judges have also given the Defense and the Legal Representative of Victims up to September 10 to file any responses.

“Noting the importance of timely and efficient preparations and in order to provide the necessary guidance for parties and participants, the Chamber orders the prosecution to file a notice confirming whether it anticipates being in a position to start trial,” the judges ordered.

The orders were issued on Thursday morning by trial judges Robert Fremr, Geoffrey Henderson and Kuniko Ozaki who presides the case.

They said it is imperative for Bensouda to state if she is ready for the case for purposes of efficient planning, ahead of the scheduled date of October 7.

The president’s defence team has always argued that the prosecution has no case and urged judges to dismiss it altogether

Bensouda in February told the court that she did not have evidence against Kenyatta which prompted the court to vacate earlier dates of commencement of his trial and place it on October 7 to allow the prosecution time to collect more evidence.

She argued that if the Government of Kenya would submit ‘crucial documents’ that had been requested, it would be in a position to gather evidence to show the criminal liability of President Kenyatta in the Nakuru and Naivasha attacks during the 2008 post election violence.

During a status conference last month, the prosecution and Attorney General Githu Muigai on behalf of the Kenya government gave to the court an update of the documents submitted and those pending.

The prosecution complained that Kenya had not yet fully complied in submitting all required information regarding President Kenyatta.

Muigai complained that it was impractical to fulfill some of the requests made by the prosecution due to their ambiguity and lack of specifications especially on land ownership and third parties of companies associated with Kenyatta.

He said the requests also have to be done according to the legal framework and that Kenya was not ready to violate its laws to fulfill ICC’s requests.

President Kenyatta’s lawyer Stephen Kay accused the ICC of lack of objectivity and decisiveness in the case against his client.

He complained that even after the Office of The Prosecutor in February admitted to the court that it did not have evidence against Kenyatta, the court has allowed it time to do ‘fishing expedition’ for evidence that is not relevant to the case.

allAfrica

South Sudan – rebels deny shooting down UN helicopter

Sudan Tribune

August 26, 2014 (KAMPALA) – South Sudanese rebels have denied allegations its forces shot down a UN helicopter near the capital of oil-rich Unity state on Tuesday.

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A UN-contracted Mi-8 helicopter very similar to this crashed in South Sudan’s Unity state on 26 August 2014, killing three Russian crew members on board (AP)

In an interview Voice of America on Tuesday, the spokesperson for the South Sudanese army (SPLA), Col. Philip Aguer, accused rebels under commander of Maj.Gen Peter Gatdet of bringing down the Mi-8 helicopter at Tong, about 10km south of Bentiu, killing three Russian crew members on board.

However, rebel brigadier-general Lul Ruai Koang dismissed the claims as government propaganda, denying the opposition faction had any involvement.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has confirmed the helicopter crashed and has launched an investigation into what caused the incident.

ALLEGATIONS “UNFOUNDED”

Koang said the SPLA’s rush to lay blame on rebel forces on the ground in Unity state was premature, describing the allegations as “unfounded and baseless”, saying UNMISS had made very clear statements on what occurred.

The rebel faction has called for UNMISS to conduct a full investigation of the circumstances which led to the chopper crash.

“We pledge a full cooperation with the investigation team once formed,” said Koang.

The helicopter, which was contracted from a Russian company, was on a routine cargo flight from Wau in Western Bahr El Ghazal state to Bentiu, when contact was lost at 2.28pm (local time), a UN spokesperson has confirmed.

UNMISS subsequently dispatched a search and rescue team to the site of the incident.

The sole surviving crew member has received treatment from Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Bentiu.

POLITICAL POINT SCORING

In a separate statement issued from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, the rebel faction said it empathised with the families of those who perished as a result of the unfortunate event, accusing the government of using the incident to gain political leverage.

“The SPLM/SPLA [in Opposition] would like to take this opportunity to refute these malicious allegations levelled by the propaganda machine of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS),” said the statement, which bore the signature of Mabior Garang de Mabior, the chairperson of the committee for information and public relations.

According to the statement, rebel commanders in the field reported hearing a loud explosion near Rubkona airstrip and upon investigation found that an aircraft had crashed.

“The area in which the plane was reportedly shot down is government-held territory, if indeed the aircraft was shot down. It is unfortunate that the GRSS propaganda machine is trying to capitalise on this unfortunate event to score political points,” the statement adds.

UN EXTENDS CONDOLENCES

Toby Lanzer, the officer-in-charge of UNMISS, also extended his sympathies to the families of the deceased crew members following the incident.

“I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and wish a full and speedy recovery to the injured crew member,” said Lanzer.

Opposition forces loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar have been engaged in an armed struggle with the South Sudanese government since conflict erupted in mid-December last year after a political dispute with the country’s ruling party (SPLM) turned violent.

Unity state has been a flashpoint for violence since the conflict broke out, with Bentiu changing hands several times between the warring parties.

(ST)

Burundi investigates “Rwandan” bodies found in lake

BBC

Burundi investigates ‘Rwandan bodies’ in Lake Rweru

Burundi has set up an investigation after a number of dead bodies wrapped in plastic were found floating in a lake on its border with Rwanda.

Fishermen say there are reports of dozens of unidentified bodies being spotted in recent weeks in Lake Rweru.

It is not clear how they died. The regional authorities say their investigations indicate the victims were not from Burundi.

But Rwanda police say no-one has been reported missing on the Rwandan side.

”The victims are not Burundian citizens because the bodies are coming from Akagera River flowing from Rwanda,” Burundian official, Jean Berchmans Mpabansi, told the BBC.

The latest bodies – five wrapped within two plastic bags – were discovered on Sunday and Monday.

Two other bodies were found last Tuesday.

Villagers in Giteranyi district, which borders the lake, say the bodies first began appearing in July – with some saying up to 40 have been spotted.

The BBC’s Prime Ndikumagenge in Burundi says most of the bodies have been wrapped in plastic, but one fisherman said that not all of them have been – giving the example of a naked woman who was found.

The bodies are often discovered in an advanced stage of decomposition, prompting health fears as villagers in the semi-arid province of Muyingai depend on the lake for their water, he says.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-28940020

South Sudan crisis: UN helicopter crashes near Bentiu – rebels accused

BBC

UN helicopter in South Sudan (file photo)The UN plays a key role in getting food to South Sudanese refugees

The UN says one of its cargo helicopters has crashed in South Sudan, with unconfirmed reports saying it was shot down.

Three crew died, while one survived, said the UN mission in South Sudan, adding that an inquiry was under way.

A UN official told the AP news agency the Mi-8 helicopter had apparently been shot down.

Thousands of people have been killed this year in bitter fighting between South Sudan’s army and rebel forces.

Bentiu, capital of the oil-rich Unity state, has changed hands several times but a ceasefire agreement is currently in place.

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On Monday, the two sides were given 45 days to form a power-sharing government.

A government official has accused forces loyal to rebel commander Peter Gadet of shooting down the helicopter, AP reports. His forces have not yet commented.

The UN plays a vital role in getting food to the 1.8 million people who have fled their homes since fighting broke out last December.

Many have sought shelter in UN bases around the country, including Bentiu.  BBC

African Union defends non-prosecution of incumbent presidents: Kenyan report

Nation

AU defends immunity clause for sitting presidents

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The African Union (AU) has defended the decision by members to approve a clause in its protocol that would shield sitting heads of state from prosecution for war crimes.

The Director for the African Union Legal Counsel, Vincent Nmehielle, on Monday evening told the Nation the clause in the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights “is not a departure” from known international legal systems and is only meant to ensure governments are not “interrupted.”

“This immunity is not absolute. It is only extended during their term of office. It doesn’t mean that they can never be tried for war crimes or crimes against humanity or for genocide,” Prof Nmehielle told the Nation in Nairobi.

“I have never seen that any leader can lead forever. There is a misconception that African leaders continue to be bad and that is not really a fair assessment.

INTERNATIONAL LEGAL SYSTEMS

“If they committed those crimes while in office, it means that the prosecution will wait until they leave the office, which appears to be in accord with a number of international legal systems where no criminal prosecutions against a sitting head of state are preferred.”

The AU’s legal chief was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting that the AU has called in Nairobi to “brainstorm on a strategy to speed up ratification, accession and implementation of the OAU/AU treaties in Eastern Africa.”

The two-day event that ends on Tuesday has drawn attendants from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Tanzania and other countries from the region.

Participants will review a protocol adopted at an AU summit in June in Equatorial Guinea that would give more teeth to the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to try suspects for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

ATROCITIES

But specific focus was drawn by civil society groups from 40 African countries earlier in the day, who demanded that the legal experts advise member states to drop article 46A, which provides that no sitting head of state should face crimes against humanity charges.

“The immunity provision is a regrettable departure from the AU’s Constitutive Act, which rejects impunity under article 4,” said Mr George Kegoro, the director of the Kenya chapter of the International Commission of Jurists.

“Immunity takes away the prospect that victims can access justice at the African court when leaders commit atrocities. African states should take a clear stand opposing this immunity.”

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz (right) delivers a speech at the 22nd African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa on January 31, 2014. PHOTO | AFP

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http://www.nation.co.ke/news/africa/AU-defends-immunity-clause/-/1066/2430376/-/15f02yiz/-/index.html