<center>Great Lakes: IRIN Update 103, 2/18/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 103, 2/18/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 103 on the Great Lakes for 18 February 1997

* Laurent-Desire Kabila, leader of the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), said today that his forces will attack military air-bases used for air-strikes against rebel-held territory. In a statement, Kabila called yesterday's air-strikes on Bukavu "a criminal act" which targetted civilians.

There were two aid flights to Tingi-Tingi today, despite fuel problems. The Zairean army has requisitioned fuel for military purposes, and yesterday commandeered a vital pumping system - which was returned today.

The Zairean government says it will continue air-strikes in rebel-held territory. Yesterday, an air-strike reportedly killed at least six people and injured more than 30 in Bukavu. Today, Bukavu is described as "relatively normal" with many people back at work. The UN is reviewing the security situation but have no immediate plans to evacuate. Bukavu, on the Rwandan border was one of the first towns to be seized by rebels last year; the ADFL broadcasts from a radio station in Bukavu. According to the Zairean government, there were also air-strikes against Walikale and Shabunda, but there has been no independent confirmation of this. CNN reported today that mercenaries flew the aircraft.

* The Zairean government has again rejected calls to negotiate with rebels in eastern Zaire. Foreign Minister Kamanda wa Kamanda said in a statement dated 16 February that "the government stresses that it cannot accept a ceasefire with unidentified belligerents". The statement said a ceasefire would have the effect of legitimizing the agressors and would "transform a war of invasion into a civil war". It criticised the UN as being "not concerned with the security of Zairean internally displaced persons but only with refugees and humanitarian workers". The statement also said there was a rebel "policy of extermination" of Hutu refugees, and listed five sites of alleged massacres. The statement concluded that "any ceasefire between Zaire and the armies of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi must be accompanied by the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops, as requested in the declaration of the UN Security Council". The government denied using former Rwandan soldiers and militia to fight rebels.

Kabila says a February 21 deadline is the last chance to "talk about a political settlement", and that a "second offensive" will otherwise start, reports Reuters.

* The escalation of hostilities has serious implications for humanitarian access, already severely limited. Poor access and military interference in the largest refugee camp, Tingi-Tingi (I and II together hold about 150,000 Rwandans), have resulted in an alarmingly high death rate of around 40 per day (predominantly children). Yesterday - before the air-strikes - Kabila had responded to appeals from the United Nations to stay away from Tingi-Tingi refugee camp. He temporarily agreed to keep his troops away from the camp to give the international community time to work out how to seperate armed extremists from genuine refugees, reports AP. Reports of Tingi-Tingi camp air-strip being used for military purposes continue, however, and Hutu extremists in the camp are armed.

The World Food Programme reports its first two flights to Kalima from Kisangani arrived today, carrying 12 tons of food. WFP further reports that today only one 40 MT rotation of the IL-76 cargo plane was made from Mwanza to Kisangani due to delays and formalities on the tarmac in Kisangani.

* Four African Foreign Ministers are scheduled to arrive in Kinshasa, Zaire, today, to prepare for a third Heads of State meeting on the Great Lakes crisis. Foreign ministers from Kenya, South Africa, Cameroon and Tanzania - known as "the peace quartet" - are expected to discuss the date, composition and venue of a third regional summit. Accusations of partisanship or active involvement in the Great Lakes crisis now makes it difficult to get consensus on "neutral territory" for the third summit; since hosting the first two conferences, Kenya's President Moi has been accused by rebels of demonstrating a pro-Mobutu stance. The four foreign ministers were mandated by a ministerial meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, January 30 1997.

Joint OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Mohamed Sahnoun, held talks in Kinshasa with Foreign Minister Kamanda wa Kamanda before flying today to Kigali, Rwanda. In a briefing after the talks, Sahnoun said talks with President Mobutu, Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo and Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and the Interior were "encouraging". Sahnoun also met with opposition leaders. When he was asked whether the Government of Zaire was willing to open negotiations with the rebels, Sahnoun said that while the term "negotiations" remained unacceptable, another formula like "dialogue" may be acceptable.

* Sudan Culture and Information Minister and government spokesman Brigadier Al-Tayeb Ibrahim Mohamed Khair said in a press statement yesterday that groups of Zaireans fleeing fighting have fled to the Bazi area in Western Equatoria. The statement urged the warring parties to find a peaceful solution, and called on UNHCR to provide urgent assistance to Zairean refugees in Sudan. An indepentent daily "Alwan", quoting a government source, said about 20 Zairean refugees arrive in Bazi every two hours and that numbers were now up to 10,000. According to the government, the food situation in Bazi had become critical since supplies were cut off by the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) a year ago in June. Much of Western Equatoria is under the control of the SPLA. An official at the state Commission for Refugees told IPS that the only link for information was through army units.

* The Tanzanian government has declared that those Rwandan refugees from the Tanzanian camps who have failed to repatriate will be considered illegal aliens. The Tanzanian government believes there are refugees hiding to avoid repatriation. Under the Convention, refugees have the right to protection unless they voluntarily decide to repatriate.

* In the Zairean press (February 17), "Le Soft" - considered relatively neutral - reported that Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo had announced the nomination of military governors for the regions of Haut Zaire, Maniema and Shaba. It also reported that Minister of Defence, General Likulia Bolongo, claimed 8,000 Ugandan, 5,000 Rwandan and 4,000 Burundian soldiers were fighting with ADFL forces. "Le Soft" criticized Joint OAU/UN Special Representative Mohamed Sahnoun for referring to the fighting in the east as "the crisis" rather than a war of aggression. An opposition paper "Le Palmares" reported a spokesperson for opposition leader Tshisekedi saying that official contacts between the UDPS (Tshisekedi's party) and ADFL leader would soon be established. "Le Potential" - also an opposition paper - reported the Minister of Defence telling the transitional parliament that money allocated to the war effort was insufficient; he said it was just enough to maintain an army not at war.

Nairobi, 18 February 1997, 16:00 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: for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

Date: Tue, 18 Feb 1997 19:10:33 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 103 for 18 Feb 1997 97.2.18 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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