UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 102 on the Great Lakes for 15-17 February 1997
# Rebel-held Bukavu in eastern Zaire was reported bombed by at least two planes at around 4pm local time today. Several bombs were dropped, some near the city centre and market place, causing an unknown number of casualties. Deaths have been reported but not confirmed. Aid workers are assisting the wounded.
# United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a halt to the militarisation of Tingi-Tingi camp in eastern Zaire, saying it "puts at risk the lives of innocent refugees and humanitarian workers". The Secretary-General made the statement after meeting on Friday with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.) The statement said young male refugees were being actively recruited. Kofi Annan called on leaders in the region to "prevail on the protagonists to the conflict to accept a ceasefire and allow time for negotiations to resume."
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, expressed concern about the situation in the camp after her visit last week. On Friday, in Kigoma, Tanzania, the High Commissioner said "I appeal to Kabila not to attack Tingi-Tingi". Mrs Ogata said in a later press conference in Dar es Salaam, that the same airstrip being used for relief supplies was being used for military supplies. News agencies report a senior UNHCR official as saying he had observed refugees unload military hardware. Rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila has issued various contradictory statements regarding Tingi-Tingi over the last week, but today reportedly repeated a previous promise to keep his troops away. CNN has shown pictures from Tingi-Tingi of armed Rwandans, and flights arriving carrying military supplies.
# UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Great Lakes Region, Martin Griffiths, met with senior representatives of the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire yesterday in rebel-held eastern Zaire. The Humanitarian Coordinator discussed possible repatriation of Rwandan refugees and the extension of the humanitarian programme in rebel-held territory.
# The Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) said on Sunday that the OAU was becoming "more and more concerned" over the situation in eastern Zaire. Salim Ahmed Salim was speaking from Brazzaville, Congo, where he had held talks with Congolese President Pacal Lissouba on the Zairean crisis.
# The European Union also expressed concern about Tingi-Tingi camp in a statement issued on Friday. The Dutch EU presidency said in the statement that the EU had learnt with great concern from UNHCR that "weapons, ammunition and uniforms have been delivered to the Tingi-Tingi refugee camp".
The militarisation of Tingi-Tingi camps - now holding about 150,000 Rwandans - again raises the issue of seperating armed extremists from legitimate refugees. UN agencies and NGOs have been unable to come up with any decisive proposal on how to segregate the two. Regional leaders and aid organisations warned early on in the eastern Zaire conflict that failure to get to the "root cause" - including the issue of separation - would only exacerbate the crisis. This month there have been renewed calls for an intervention force, or police force, to provide protection for refugees. Although there have been no reports of fighting in Tingi-Tingi, there is a persistently high death rate amongst refugees because of the disrupted and limited relief efforts.
# Four African foreign ministers are due to go to Zaire tomorrow to help mediate in the Great Lakes crisis, reports AFP from South Africa. According to a South African Foreign Ministry spokesman, Pieter Swanepoel, ministers from Cameroon, Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe will spend three days on the mission. The Zaire mission is expected to pave the way for a further regional summit.
# The Zairean Minister of Information and Press issued a decree banning private radio and television stations from "producing, broadcasting or relaying political programmes", reports state-run Zairean radio (15 February). They are also banned from broadcasting radio and television newscasts and press reviews. The government complained of "enemy propaganda" in announcing the ban. Private papers have openly accused President Mobutu and the government of neglecting the war effort and misappropriating funds, and more recently have carried satirical cartons regarding his prostate cancer. President Mobutu, presently in his home town Gbadolite, appears to be unmoved by mounting domestic pressure to negotiate with the rebels or resign. Public rallies and demonstrations have also been banned.
# Gabonese radio reported on Sunday (February 16) that Zairean parliamentarian Joseph Oligankoye escaped by river to Brazzaville to escape a government hunt for those who initiated last Monday's partially sucessful "dead day" strike. Two other parliamentarians, Aziz Kundili and Sanga Bongaga, have also reportedly gone underground because of the government crackdown.
# On Saturday, Mohamed Sahnoun, the Joint OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, met Mobutu in Gbadolite. UN officials in New York said Sahnoun would convey the UN Secretary-General's concern about the militarisation of Tingi-Tingi to the Kinshasa government.
# In Rwanda, head of the state council court and vice president of the Rwandan supreme court, Vincent Nzazabaganwa, was assassinated on Friday (February 14) night. His wife said he was gunned down in his Kigali home by men in military uniform. Exile opposition group Resistance Forces for Democracy (FRD) said in a press release from Brussels, Febraury 15th, that it had recieved reports of a number of recent assasinations, including Alphonse Marie Nkubito on February 12 (Jurist and magistrate, and head of Rwandan human rights organisation Association Rwandaise de Defense des Droits de l'Homme), Jean Pierre Niyonzima on February 12 (Mayor of Ndusu commune, Ruhengeri), Paul Mbugurije on January 21 (former chief judge at the Local Communal Magistrates Court of Rutongo), Denis Kanyamibwa (civil servant in the Ministry of Finance) and lists eight other un-named people. Rwandan human rights organisation ADL (13 February) denounces the killings of 36 people since January 21, and says the increase of murders, illegal arrests and disappearances comes at the same time as the publication of the list of "first category people suspected to be involved in the genocide". UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda have reported that between December 1996 and January 1997, 227 genocide survivors had been killed in Rwanda.
State-run Radio Rwanda yesterday reported that security forces had shot dead last Thursday the man responsible for the assassination of five UN human rights monitors (February 4). Radio Rwanda said security forces also shot dead one of his accomplices, and another had been detained. Various weapons were recovered, including anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, walkie-talkies and several military uniforms. Security forces also reportedly found a passport of one of the human rights monitors, and personal photographs. Radio Rwanda also reported that security forces killed six out of seven suspects on Friday in Runda commune, Gitarama; arrests continue there, following reports last week of a further four killings of genocide survivors. Genocide survivors have asked the Rwandan government to be re-settled in groups for security reasons; on January 28 the government announced it would undertake a new re-settlement policy to incorporate "group settlements" of houses, farmland and public facilities for 100 to 200 survivor families per settlement.
# Former vice-president of the extremist MDR-Power Party, Froduald Karamira, was found guilty on Friday of being a ringleader in the 1994 genocide, and sentanced to death by a Rwandan court. According to Radio Rwanda, the main charges included having supported the Interahamwe militia by arming and training them, having killed or intended to kill named persons, and having incited people to exterminate their neighbours. The court also ordered Karamira to pay 1.1 billion Rwandan francs, and granted him 15 days leave to appeal against the sentence. Karamira, the most senior suspect found guilty in Rwanda, was born a Tutsi but converted by custom to Hutu.
# UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday in a press conference he would discipline UN officials if necessary in response to the highly critical internal report on mismanagement in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Four top Rwandan massacre suspects transfered from Cameroon to Arusha last month will appear for an initial hearing on Wednesday and Thursday at the Arusha Tribunal. On Thursday, charges will be read to Colonel Theoneste Bagosora. A former senior official at the Ministry of Defence, Bagosora is alleged to have taken control of military and political affairs in Rwanda following the plane crash in which President Habyarimana was killed, 1994. His lawyers last week requested the tribunal to provide them with findings of the investigations into the plane crash.
# No statement has been issued to date by the Regional Sanctions Committee, who are reported to have met in Lusaka, Zambia, for two days February 13-14. Joint OAU/UN Special Representative Mohamed Sahnoun held talks with Burundi leader Pierre Buyoya on Friday and said there was need for a comprehensive aid plan for the region. Ambassador Sahnoun told reporters in Bujumbura he did not immediately envisage an international peacekeeping force being sent to Zaire, but that things could change following talks with other leaders in the region. Ambassador Sahnoun is scheduled to arrive in Kigali, Rwanda, tomorrow.
# Four soldiers in the Burundian army, including a lieutenant, have been given prison sentences of eight to ten years for massacring about forty innocent civilians. The sentences were handed down on Saturday by a military court in a southern town, Bururi.
# The Burundian authorities complained that UN human rights monitors "sent reports only to foreign countries", reported state-run radio Burundi, February 14th. According to the report, the authorities said the human rights reports were made "without regard for agreements signed with Burundi and that those who wrote the reports seemed to support the killers and failed to acknowldge that peace was slowly returning". Buyoya recently challanged the international community to send more UN human rights monitors. According to a January 29 report published by the UN Human Rights office in Burundi, Hutu rebels and the Burundi military have killed at least 1,100 people over the two months prior to the report.
# Kenya's Mombasa port reported a considerable cargo boost last year, due mainly to food supplies to the Great Lakes region, reports the regional East African weekly newspaper. The volume of Rwandan cargo through the port of Mombasa last year increased by almost 50% over 1995's total. According to the report, Burundi has close to 120,000 tonnes of imports marooned at the port - and much more at the port of Dar es Salaam - because of the effects of regional sanctions.
# The state-owed Tanzanian newspaper "Sunday News" reported from Kigoma, Tanzania, that 50 Zairean soldiers arrived at the port on Friday; and that 161 heavily armed soldiers surrendered to Tanzanian police on Wednesday. 105 NATO and Chinese-made guns, 19 bombs, a grenade and thousands of rounds of ammunition were reportedly confiscated from the soldiers. Acting Regional Commissioner for Kigoma, Alhaji Ahmed Lugusha, described the new arrivals as crestfallen: "Most of them had talismans tied on their arms and waists, rolls of bhang (cannabis) and some strange potions, strongly suggesting that they believed in witchcraft in their counter-offensive against the rebels".
Nairobi, 17 February 1997, 16:00 GMT [ENDS]
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Date: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 19:07:39 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 102 for 15-17 Feb 1997 97.2.17 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.email@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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