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IRIN Emergency Update No. 106 on the Great Lakes for 21 February 1997
* Efforts continued today in Cape Town, South Africa, to bring the warring parties in Zaire together for talks. Parks Mankahlana, spokesman for President Nelson Mandela, said the South African government was not releasing any details, reports Reuters. After speculation yesterday over the first face-to-face talks between the government and the rebels, the South African government is trying to contain expectations by emphasising that the talks will be "a long process".
A spokesman for Laurent-Desire Kabila, leader of the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire, said that Kabila was only ready for talks in South Africa "with people who are mandated to make a decision". The spokesman, Deo Bugera, nevertheless said that the ADFL was scaling down their military offensive to assist efforts to start up peace talks. Kabila has previously insisted on meeting with Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko. Ailing President Mobutu is due back in France tonight, report news agencies.
The prospect of face-to-face talks in South Africa neutralises a rebel deadline of February 21 (today), wherein the ADFL threatened to go on a major offensive unless Kinshasa agreed to talk. Fighting intensified at the begining of this week, with the Zairean government bombing rebel-held towns and the rebels threatening military bases and air-strips. Fighting appears to have lulled since Thursday, when at least four diplomatic peace initiatives came to the fore (see IRIN Update 105), although representatives of the Zairean crisis government in Kinshasa have continued to issue threats of more air-raids. Earlier this week, some reports indicated that the government troops had pushed back rebel forces between Lubutu and Walikale.
* According to state-owned KBC, President Moi of Kenya announced today that a major summit would be held in Nairobi on 12th March "to discuss conflict resolutions in various parts of Africa". The report did not specify if the March 12th summit would discuss the Zairean crisis, nor that it was the anticipated "Nairobi III" summit. The "peace quartet" of Foreign Minsters from Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe said yesterday Zairean Ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo in Kinshasa had expressed a willingness to attend the "Nairobi III" conference, but had said that foreign troops must first be withdrawn so that the summit would be "a forum to discuss the future of Zaire". The Foreign Ministers said their respective heads of state had to be briefed before the date and venue of "Nairobi III" could be announced.
Although there is general consensus on the need for a "Nairobi III" summit - based on a five-point peace plan proposed by Joint OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Mohamed Sahnoun, and endorsed by the UN Security Council, there is debate about who will participate and what the agenda should be. The official stance of the Zairean crisis government has consistently been that foreign troops withdraw before peace talks proceed. The Zairean government accuses Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi of being involved in the conflict; an accusation the countries deny. The rebel ADFL, on its part, says any attempt to resolve the crisis without ADFL representation is unacceptable. The first two regional heads of state summits on the crisis were hosted by President Moi in Nairobi - but rebels have since accused him of being partisan.
* Yesterday evening Joint OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Mohamed Sahnoun, met in Nairobi with UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator Martin Griffiths before flying on to Geneva. Martin Griffiths said the various peace initiatives were an important development and that "the concerted movement towards cessation of hostilities should aid progress on a Nairobi III summit, and also help vital humanitarian access".
* Food arrival by truck this week at the Tingi-Tingi camps increased food availability. Trucks carrying 410 tons took four days to reach Tingi-Tingi from Kisangani - up to now, food deliveries have depended on daily flights from Kisangani, which have been hampered by obstruction and fuel appropriation by authorities. One UN aid worker said getting food to Tingi-Tingi is "not a logistical nightmare, it's a political nightmare". According to WFP, the food is now being distributed at sector level organised by women's committees. Lack of staff and an implementing partner means food must be distributed and monitored by refugees. This method tries to ensure that food reaches children and families. However, concern remains that armed Rwandan militia receive food earmarked for genuine refugees; an issue that can only be resolved through separation.
* The speaker of Burundi's parliament, Leonce Ngendakumana, said in a press conference yesterday that negotiations were needed because "war does not lead to peace", reports AFP. He said hundreds of citizens were being killed either by armed groups or by the army, and there were arbitary arrests and harassment of people. He said the effects of sanctions was to make Burundi "cut off from the world" and that Burundi needed to find a means of dealing with the crippling regional sanctions. Ngendakumana faces legal proceedings related to the 1993 upheavals, and was banned last December from leaving the country. He was also recently arrested after criticizing the regroupment policy. The Burundian authorities have re-grouped in camps well over 100,000 people in rebel-affected areas; disease in the camps has increased, according to the World Health Organisation, because of insanitary conditions and lack of shelter.
* The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha delayed the first hearing in the trial of Theoneste Bagosora after the defence counsel failed to appear in court. Theoneste Bagasora, cabinet director in Rwanda's former defence ministry, is believed to have directed events during the first few days of massacres in Rwanda in April 1994 and is widely considered the most wanted genocide suspect indicted by the Tribunal. The next hearing is set for March 7th.
* According to diplomatic sources, insecurity in Rwanda is "of major concern". Killings, ambushes, and harassment of civilians by armed groups, have increased dramatically since the massive repatriation. Travel for UN agencies from Kigali to western Prefectures needs a government escort. According to one humanitarian source, the need for government escort makes it difficult for UNHRFOR to impartially monitor human rights abuses.
* Amnesty International, the London-based human rights organisation, accused Zairean soldiers of gross abuse of human rights, saying retreating soldiers had raped and killed with impunity. It called on the Zairean government to respect human rights, and called on governments to stop supplying weapons and military personnel to armed groups in the region. Independent human rights monitoring in rebel-held areas has yet to be established.
* While there are now large groups of refugees now accessible to humanitarian agencies in eastern Zaire at Tingi-Tingi, Kalima and Punia, totalling an estimated 193,000, UNHCR calculates that by the end of January 1997, as many as 189,000 more Rwandans and 39,000 other Burundians are still unaccounted for. The breakdown of figures - which refer only to refugees in Zaire from Rwanda and Burundi - is as follows. In order to save space, we have compressed the table as follows:
Category: Total figure (Figure for Rwandans/Figure for Burundians)
Total refugees before the conflict: 1,258,158 (1,111,232/146,945)
Total returns to country of origin up to end-January 97: 815,996 (726,164/100,000)
Arrivals in third countries: 10,168 (2,168/8,000)
Remainder: 432,013 (385,068/46,945)
Portion of remainder located: 193,000 (187,000/6,000)
Portion of remainder unaccounted for: 229,265 (189,590/39,675)
These figures are of course best estimates, but take into account estimated births and deaths. They also correct a slip on returnee numbers contained in IRIN Update 101.
Nairobi, February 21 1997 16:10 GMT [ENDS]
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Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 19:39:32 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 106 for 21 Feb 1997 97.2.21 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970221193450.160Hemail@example.com>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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