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IRIN Emergency Update No. 108 on the Great Lakes for 25 February 1997
* Reports of insecurity in Kisangani and Kindu have increased concern among the humanitarian community. There have been conflicting reports concerning looting in Kindu; the Zairean government has denied soldiers are looting in the garrison town.
* Rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila flew to South Africa today, report news agencies. According to Reuters, a "regional military source" stressed that Kabila would not be meeting representatives of the Zairean government, but confirmed that his visit was "part of consultations with the South Africans on the Zaire conflict". Kabila's departure comes a day after South African President Mandela announced that he and regional leaders (including Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Congo) would meet Zairean President Mobutu on March 19.
In Cape Town, Honore Ngbanda Nzambo, senior security advisor and nephew to President Mobutu, said he met last week with a US delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs George Moose, reports AFP. Ngbanda said a South African delegation was present, acting as facilitators. The Zairean representative also said he had met Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who was in Cape Town last week. Ngbanda praised the "sincerity" of the US team but said the international community "still seems to be playing the hypocrite, and double-talking", reports AFP. He said that the international community had proof of "involvement" of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi in the fighting but refused to "denounce the agressors".
* Tingi-Tingi (I and II) camps - served by air and ground transport from Kisangani only - continue to have an alarmingly high death rate despite improved rations of now 1700 kilocalories. Aid workers point out that health recovery is difficult to achieve on less than a full ration, but also fear that the high mortality rate points to appropriation of food by Rwandan militia and ex-soldiers in the camps. UNHCR has said it is investigating the possibility of evacuating by air the most vulnerable refugees (predominantly children); but any significant change in the security situation in Kisangani directly threatens the existence of the Tingi-Tingi camps.
Rwandan leaders in the two camps at Tingi-Tingi are said to have strong control over refugees and are preventing amalgamation or dispersal of the camps. A journalist recently returned from Tingi-Tingi told IRIN that dormitories and houses on one side of Tingi-Tingi (1) camp were "full of healthy men without dependents". According to the journalist, Rwandan militia and ex-FAR (Armed Forces of Rwanda) are fighting against the rebels - "FAZ have the guns, but FAR have the motivation". There are unconfirmed reports of executions of refugees by the Rwandan camp leaders. In Lubutu hospital, of 126 soldiers wounded in combat last week, only 13 were Zairean and the rest were Rwandan, humanitarian sources confirm.
* Seven people were killed and an infant wounded in an attack on Monday evening, in Bujumbura, Burundi, reports AFP. The attack targetted Paul Nkunzimana, a district secretary of Kamenge, an outlying district of Bujumbura; his wife was killed in the attack. Five suspects, identified as Hutu rebel sympathizers by the authorities, were later arrested. It was the second attack in a week in Kamenge, known as a centre of Hutu unrest in 1994-95 until the authorities swept the district. District chief Joseph Ndayizeye said that residents have slowly been returning since September and now number 2,500, reports AFP.
* In a nine-page report, the Rwandan government has criticised the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. According to the statement, the tribunal has become "discredited in the eyes of the Rwandan people who have been bitterly disappointed by its seeming inability to make serious and sustained efforts in bringing to justice the architects of the genocide". In a press conference last week, Justice Minister Faustin Nteziryano said the tribunal had failed to go after the ringleaders of the genocide, but had pursued "lesser criminals". The Rwandan government criticised the tribunals chief prosecutor Louise Arbour, who divides her time between the international tribunal for Rwanda and the international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, based in the Hague. The government said she had failed to fulfill the court's main objective "to try persons responsible for genocide to the end that justice may become a tool for promoting reconciliation and peace in Rwanda." The complaints follow a highly critical internal UN report that said the tribunal was failing in all its administrative functions.
* The Sudanese army and militias have killed more than 35 Ethiopian "mercenaries" and Sudanese rebels in Khor Al-Gana area, eastern Sudan, reported a government paper on February 22. The report said Ethiopian forces and rebels of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) had fled, leaving behind their dead, weapons and food supplies carrying Ethiopian markings. Sudan has accused Ethiopia and Eritrea of supporting the rebel offensive. Both countries deny any involvement.
* European Union Foreign Ministers gathering for their monthly meeting in Brussels were greeted by drum-beating protestors yesterday. Protestors were demonstrating for more positive EU action in Africa's Great Lakes region, reports Reuters. The Great Lakes was one of the subjects to be discussed at the monthly meeting.
* A heads of state summit was held at Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire on 20 February under the chairmanship of President of Togo, General Gnassingbe Eyadema. A joint communique issued after the summit included recommendations on the Great Lakes crisis, and called for an intervention force. It also requested an extraordinary session of the Central Organ (for Conflict Resolution) of the OAU on the crisis at the heads of state and heads of government level.
* A two day peace conference will be held in Kampala, Uganda, from tomorrow. The conference - "The Challenge of Peace in Northern Uganda: A Search for Solutions" - is being coordinated by the Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) and the Ugandan Women's Network (UWONET). Participants will include representatives from local communities, government, UN agencies, NGOs and experts in conflict resolution. For more information contact Sam Aisu at ACORD, PO Box 280, Kampala (Tel: 256-41-267667/8, FAX: 256-41-267669, e-mail: ACORD@MUKLA.gn.apc.org).
* Following yesterdays student riots in Nairobi over the death of a student leader, the United States embassy issued a statement today deploring the "violent and so far unexplained death" of leader Solomon Muruli. The statement urged the government to give high priority to investigating the circumstances surrounding Muruli's death, and a full and prompt disclosure of the results. The British High Commission also released a statement. Nairobi University was closed until further notice yesterday, and hundreds of riot police stood by as students packed up and left the campus.
* Leader of the mercenaries fighting for the Zairean army, Christian Tavernier, said on Sunday in a telephone interview from eastern Zaire that "the balance of strength is currently against us", reports Reuters. Tavernier accused Uganda of supporting the rebels, claiming "well-organised units come from Uganda, carry out an operation, attack a position, and then retreat". He said "The Zairean army is in a tangle, like the rest of the country, with almost no logistics". On the other side of the fence, Colonel Willy Mallants, a former advisor to President Mobutu who is now an advisor to the rebels, told Belgian radio that the Zairean government was employing "war criminals" to fight its battle. He said the mercenaries should "be before the international tribunal in the Hague".
Nairobi, 25 February 1997, 15:45 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: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]
Date: Tue, 25 Feb 1997 18:58:29 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <email@example.com> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 108 for 25 Feb 1997 97.2.25 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.91.970225185426.29045Lfirstname.lastname@example.org>
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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