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IRIN Emergency Update No. 100 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 13 February 1997)
# The United Nations Security Council yesterday held an unprecedented meeting with non-governmental humanitarian agencies on the Great Lakes conflict. At an informal meeting, the agencies called on UN member states to exert political pressures on governments to secure protection for vulnerable populations, including displaced persons and refugees. In a joint press release, following the meeting, OXFAM, CARE and Doctors without Borders said the agencies welcomed the "historic oportunity" to give first-hand accounts in their presentation on the Great Lakes. The press release sharply criticised the UN Security Council and UN member states, saying "humanitarian action has been used as a substitute for political action". The agencies recommended that international diplomacy be made the first priority, by putting "full political and diplomatic resources behind the search for a regional political settlement". It said the appointment of Joint UN/OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Mohamed Sahnoun, was "an opportunity to make real progress towards a regional political settlement". The International Committee of the Red Cross also made a presentation at the meeting.
In his briefing to the Security Council, OXFAM director David Bryer said that all too often "partial measures" were used to adress the crisis in the Great Lakes and that the "UN Security Council and the UN member states have yet to demonstrate their commitment to a response commensurate with the scale of suffering in this region". He said that "the enormity of recent horrors have tended to eclipse the fact that crises in the region stem from underlying causes that are both long established and complex". Calling for a lasting, durable political solution, Bryer said any solution must come from the region itself.
# Rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila said yesterday a regional heads of state summit on the Zaire crisis will be pointless without representation from his Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). In an interview in Bukavu, eastern Zaire, Kabila complained that no-one had so far consulted him or solicited his views on how to resolve the conflict: "We are part of the Zaire game, yet no one bothers to invite us to regional meetings on Zaire...not inviting us to such a meeting does not and cannot solve the country's problems" quotes Reuters. Rebel radio, Bukavu, Tuesday, broadcast Kabila reiterating an ultimatum to the Zairean government to start negotiations with ADFL by February 21. A regional summit, preceding an international conference, has been proposed by European Union Special Envoy Aldo Ajello earlier this week.
Rebel claims to have captured the strategic border town of Isiro late Tuesday were confirmed today by the Zairean military, reports AFP. Observers say the capture of Isiro - 575 kilometers northeast of the government stronghold of Kisangani, and close to the Uganda, Central African Republic and Sudan borders - gives rebels significant control of supply lines. Isiro has a major airport, which was fiercely defended by foreign mercenaries, journalists report. BBC today reported a claim by rebels that they had seized the town of Faradje, northeastern Zaire. A BBC correspondent in the region said the rebels were advancing on several fronts.
# President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya - who hosted two regional summits on the Great Lakes crisis - appealed yesterday to the United Nations, United States and the European Union to provide an intervention force. President Moi said the force should act as a buffer between Zaire and neighbouring countries, reported local media. Speaking in northwest Kenya during a public rally, President Moi said the world community must act fast to avert further bloodshed in the Great Lakes region. President Moi also denounced the ADFL rebels for "recruiting child soldiers". In an interveiw with AFP, rebel spokesman Raphael Ghenda rejected Moi's proposal, saying Moi was partisan and showed support for Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko.
# Ugandan President Yoweri said yesterday after talks with French President Jacques Chirac that he did not believe an international conference would bring any quick solution to the Great Lakes crisis. France has made urgent calls for an international conference to resolve the situation in Zaire. Museveni described such a conference as a "medium or long-term arrangement" and called for "more specific" measures, reports Reuters from Paris. He said a more immediate solution would be to empower Mohamed Sahnoun to mediate a cease-fire between Zaire and the ADFL rebels, and said Sahnoun should be backed by "some political heavy weight".
# A representative of Kabila's ADFL rebel group, Gaetan Kakudji, is in Paris, and has met several French officials to discuss the Zairean crisis, reports AFP. Gaetan Kakudji told AFP that the rebel group was keen "to destroy the image that the alliance is hostile to France" and said the message had been "well received" by the French. Kakudji said he had met Africa specialists from both the French foreign ministry and the presidency. These contacts between the rebels and the French government are believed to be the first. Gaetan Kakudja, who is in charge of foreign affairs and development aid for the ADFL and is sometimes referred to as its "foreign minister", met last week with Mohamed Sahnoun.
Diplomatic sources in Europe told IRIN that the French government was well informed of the visit by Museveni and rebel representative Gaetan Kakudji, but that the visit of Kakudji was not official.
Uganda's state-owned New Vision newspaper reported today that Ugandan insurgents and the Zairean rebels have been engaged in heavy fighting on the Zairean side of the border. The Ugandan West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) fought Zairean rebels at Ariwara, 12 kilometres inside the Zairean border, reported the newspaper. Ugandan authorities say the WNBF operates from bases inside Zaire, and is believed to be fighting alongside Zairean government troops. The Zairean government says it is holding captive survivors from a Ugandan cargo plane carrying military equipment and troops which was reported to have crashed inside Zaire's borders. A statement by Zairean Defence Ministry said in a communique on Tuesday that the plane was "further proof of the involvement of the regular Ugandan army in the war". A Ugandan army spokesman has denied the crash.
# The World Food Programme confirms that some 2,000 Zairean refugees have arrived by barge in Mpulungu, Zambia, from areas south of Kalemie. Seven hundred Sudanese refugees who were previously staying in Dungu, southeastern Zaire, have arrived in Central African Republic (CAR) over the last few weeks. UN sources confirmed the displaced Sudanese refugees were in Mboki, CAR.
# United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan summoned yesterday top officials of the international war crimes tribunal on Rwanda following the release of the highly critical internal investigations of mismanagement. The Secretary-General is expected to call the chief prosecutor, deputy prosecutor and registrar to New York in the next ten days. The spokesman for the Secretary-General, Fred Eckhard said Annan felt "let down by the lapses in administration which occurred not only in the field but at headquarters". The chief prosecutor of the UN court is Canadian Louise Arbour. The tribunal's Arusha, Tanzania-based registrar is Andronico Adede of Kenya, and Honore Rakotomanana of Madagascar is the deputy prosecutor based in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.
# The Regional Sanctions Coordinating Committee (RSCC) on Burundi is meeting today in Lusaka, Zambia; the meeting is scheduled to last one day. The RSCC is expected to be strongly petitioned by those opposed to continued sanctions.
Nairobi, 13 February 1997, 14:00 GMT [ENDS]
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From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Feb 14 01:33 EST 1997 email@example.com Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 100 for 13 Feb 1997 97.2.13 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970213191518.9890Jfirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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