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IRIN Emergency Update No. 101 on the Great Lakes (Wednesday 12 February 1997)
# United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday that he regrets the dismantling of the multinational force for eastern Zaire at the end of 1996. At a press conference at the United Nations, New York, Annan said the plight of refugees in the region was "tragic". He said it would have been better to suspend and eventually reactivate the Canadian-led force created last November rather than abandoning it: "In retrospect, the multinational force should not have been disbanded".
The UN Secretary-General said it was very difficult to assemble a peace-keeping force: "In the absence of the willing and the will, there is very little the UN can do in terms of putting in a force". A multinational force was mandated by the UN Security Council in November, but the United States and Canada said their troops would avoid using force. After over a million Rwandan refugees spontaneouly returned to Rwanda from eastern Zaire in November, advance teams of US and Canadan troops eventually withdrew after minimal logistical preparations and air surveillance missions.
On Wednesday President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya called for an international force to be deployed in the region.
# Talks between Joint UN/OAU Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Mohamed Sahnoun, the Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Kalonzo Musyoka, and European Union envoy Aldo Ajello were held in Nairobi on Tuesday. The Kenyan Daily Nation reports today that in the talks they agreed with the Pretoria proposal (January 30 1997) that a ministerial delegation proceed to Kinshasa "as quickly as possible" in preparation for a regional summit. The Presidents of Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe were mandated by the Nairobi II summit (December 16-17 1996) to act on behalf of all leaders in the region regarding peace inititives in the Great Lakes crisis.
There have been numerous calls for a regional conference which has widespread support, but no date or venue has yet been proposed. The first two regional summits were hosted by President Daniel arap Moi in Nairobi; but after Moi visited Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko in his Gbadolite home (January 6 1997) and called on rebels to cease hostilities and withdraw to facilitate negotiations, rebel representatives denounced Moi as partisan.
Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister, Erik Derycke, called for intervention in Zaire "without taking one side or another". In an interview in the Belgian weekly "Le Vif/L'Express" published today, the Minister issued a stinging denunciation of "indifference" shown by the European Union, the United Nations and the United States towards the crisis in the Great Lakes.
# Rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila has accused the Zairean army of using Tingi-Tingi as an operations and supply base for the conflict, reported CNN today. Kabila earlier in the week gave assurances that he would keep his troops away from Tingi-Tingi, which holds at least 120,000 Rwandans. World Food Programme reports at least another 35,000 refugees in so-called "Tingi-Tingi 2", about five kilometres from the bigger camp. This group is described by agencies as being in considerably worse condition. According to UNICEF statistics, the death rate is very high - on February 12, 39 people died, of which 20 were children under five. Aid workers say amalgamation of the two groups is being resisted in "Tingi-Tingi 2" by leaders who want to retain control over refugee food distribution. Refugees in "Tingi-Tingi 2" recently fled from Amisi.
# Representatives from Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zaire and Zambia concluded a two-day meeting of the Regional Sanctions Coordinating Committee today in Lusaka, Zambia, reports Reuters. A government official said in Lusaka that the meeting closed in this afternoon but had issued no statement: "it is all hush-hush".
The Burundian government on Thursday appealed again for regional sanctions to be lifted. A statement from the Burundian foreign ministry said the country had been suffering "from a total blockade for seven months that was imposed unjustly and illegally by neighbouring countries". The government complained in the statement that "disadvantaged populations continue to be seriously affected by the perverse effects of the blockade".
World Health Organization representative for Burundi, Dr Bernard Lala, told IRIN today that the health situation in Burundi was "worsening", and that there was an epidemic of typhus in four provinces - Muramuya, Bujumbura, Gitega and Kayanza. The representative said the number of typhus cases since October 1996 had soared because of the unhygenic conditions in camps for "re-grouped" populations. Since the government started putting populations from rebel-affected areas into camps, there has been a rise in malaria, diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections and malnutrition. According to Dr Lala, some 200,000 people had been "re-grouped", after some 500,000 were dispersed by the army. He said disease was due to poor sanitation, and the absence of clean water, decent shelter and food - typhus is carried by rats and body lice. WHO have so far recorded 802 cases of typhus between October 1996 and early January 1997; there are also cases of cholera. Dr Lala warned that it was likely that problems would continue because they wre linked to the social and political situation; he also warned that where "re-grouping" denied farmers access to land, international assistance would be needed to cope with crop shortages. Dr Lala expressed concern that regional sanctions impaired quick responses to health problems.
An FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation) study shows a wide variation in changes of prices of agricultural goods and other consumer items in Burundi since the takeover in July 1996. Prices of most goods have increased, says the report, and some prices have more than doubled. The price of diesel has increased by 233% and the price of petrol has gone up by 263%. Regional sanctions were imposed on July 31st 1996.
# International Non-Governmental Organisations working in Rwanda issued a statement on February 11 condemning recent attacks on members of the international community and extended condolences to both Rwandan and international victims. The International NGO Forum in Rwanda said it was concerned that such attacks were intended to discourage international assistance to the people of Rwanda, but reaffirmed members' committment to assisting the people of Rwanda.
Seven more killings in Rwanda have been reported. State-run Rwandan radio said yesterday that unidentified gunmen attacked the Burgomaster of Ndusu commune, Ruhengeri prefecture, Jean-Pierre Nyionzima, killing him and three others. It also reported the killing of three genocide survivors in the same prefecture.
# United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata arrived in Kigoma, Tanzania today to visit Zairean refugees. Mrs Ogata left Kampala today and will fly to Dar es Salaam tomorrow. About 20,000 Zairean refugees are in camps in the western Tanzanian port; 60,000 Zaireans reportedly fled to Tanzania since the conflict in eastern Zaire started.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni yesterday proposed that a permanent observer team be deployed along the Zaire-Uganda border to check Zairean allegations that Ugandan troops are involved in the conflict. After holding talks with the UNHCR High Commissioner yesterday, Museveni reportedly pressed Ogata to get assurances of safe passage for refugees and UN staff from rebel leader Kabila and the Kinshasa authorities. He said at a news conference that France was "wrong" to propose that negotiations should only involve "legitimate governments" and not the rebels.
The northern Ugandan border town of Moyo was bombed by three Sudanese planes on Thursday; one woman was killed. The state-run New Vision newspaper reported one Antonov and two Russian MiG jet fighters dropping eight bombs between an army barracks and Moyo town. Ugandan Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya said it would put "further strain" on relations between Kampala and Khartoum, report AFP. Ugandan border towns have periodically suffered bombing since Sudanese rebels captured neighbouring territory in 1990.
# Excerpts from the Zairean press include a claim by "La Reference" - considered an opposition paper - that Belgian mercenary leader Tavernier and some of his men have left Zaire "for an unknown destination". The paper claimed he left after a tactical dispute with General Mahele over the mercenaries' "archaic methods" which were hindering the success of the army. Le Soft - which is considered neutral - reported that rebel leader Kabila had confirmed that Ugandan and Rwandan troops were fighting with rebel forces because "ethnic solidarity" transcended regional boundaries.
[Correction: Due to a typographical error in Update 99, IRIN wrongly attributed a recent report on human rights in Burundi to the UNHCR. The report was of course written by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Field Operation in Burundi, HRFOB. IRIN regrets the error.]
Nairobi, 14 February 1997, 14:10 GMT [ENDS]
[Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network. The material contained in this communication may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 622123 Fax: +254 2 622129 e-mail: email@example.com for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1997 19:23:42 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 101 for 14 Feb 1997 97.2.14 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.email@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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