Great Lakes: IRIN Update 111, 02/28/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 111, 02/28/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 111 on the Great Lakes for 28 February 1997

* An unconfirmed number of refugees are reported to be moving out of Tingi-Tingi camps, eastern Zaire, by foot, in fear of an imminent attack. Rwandan camp leaders in Tingi-Tingi camps today said that all expatriate workers should evacuate from the camps as an attack was expected tonight. The French NGO Action Contre la Faim decided today to evacuate from Tingi-Tingi camps and Kisangani, because of tension and insecurity.

* Humanitarian sources describe Kisangani as "tense" - because the behaviour of the Zairean soldiers is unpredictable in the changing situation. There are unconfirmed reports that the Zairean army has sent in reinforcements to Tingi-Tingi camps, including mercenaries.

* Well-placed regional sources confirm that Kindu has been occupied by rebel forces of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) since yesterday monring. The airstrip has also reportedly been taken by the rebels. 2,000 FAZ troops stationed in Kindu garrison town reportedly fled after extensive looting. Fleeing FAZ are reported to be moving westwards towards Katako-Kombe, and are expected to arrive sometime this weekend. Local Zairean press described Kindu today as a "ville morte". The World Health Organisation is trying to evacuate a 15-person medical survey team which had been despatched this week to Katako-Kombe. The team had gone to investigate a Monkey Pox outbreak.

Diplomatic sources say that the capture of Kindu and its airport represents a significant strategic gain for the rebels.

* Sources in the region say that the rebels have made significant gains between Isiro and Kisangani, and the towns of Bafwangbe and Bafwabogbo were confirmed to have been taken by the ADFL. ADFL are reported to have reached Bafwaboli - about 100 kilometres east of Kisangani.

* The approach road to Tingi-Tingi is said to be controlled by Rwandan militia, and the presence of Rwandan soldiers injured in combat in local hospitals point to continued fighting between Rwandan militia and the rebels. Humanitarian sources say the front line has moved closer to the camp, and is believed to be defended by Rwandan milita. Rwandans and aid workers in Tingi-Tingi camps reported over the last few days that "the sound of battle" can be heard at night. Journalists have reported barrack-like housing exclusively for men on one side of Tingi-Tingi 1. News-agencies have reported that some ex-FAR and former professionals have flown out of Tingi-Tingi, but that the exodus has been predominantly women and children.

* Private air companies continue to fly out Rwandans capable of paying $800 or more, to Nairobi via Kisangani, but there is no evidence that the "elite exodus" has reduced the hold of camp leaders on genuine refugees - well-placed sources indicate that, on the contrary, it is the camp leaders who control and administer the exodus. The presence of Rwandan soldiers injured in combat in local hospitals points to continued fighting between Rwandan militia and the rebels. The approach road to Tingi-Tingi is said to be controlled by Rwandan militia; journalists have reported barrack-like housing exclusively for men on one side of Tingi-Tingi I. News agencies have reported that some ex-FAR and former professionals have flown out of Tingi-Tingi, but that the exodus has been predominantly women and children.

* The Foreign Minister of Zaire, Gerard Kamanda Wa Kamanda on Thursday ruled out any ceasefire with the ADFL as long as "foreign troops" remained in eastern Zaire. At the ministerial meeting of the OAU in Tripoli, Kamanda repeated accusations that Uganda and Rwanda had sent troops to assist the rebels. He said that if "foreign troops" were pulled out in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1097 "we can discuss under what conditions peace and stability can be restored". He said proposals for an African "buffer force" being discussed in Tripoli was a good idea "in principle" but said there was no reason to believe that such a force would suceed where a multi-national force had failed. Kamanda was interviewed by Radio France Internationale, South African radio and AFP.

* The Organisation of African Unity special summit on the crisis of Zaire, March 18-19, will be held in Togo, the OAU announced yesterday. The summit is expected to address the possible deployment of an African buffer force between the warring parties in Zaire.

* In a speech to a formal session of the UN Security Council, US ambassador Bill Richardson warned Angolans against any involvement in the conflict in Zaire. Richardson did not specify whether the reference was to Angolan government forces of those of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), led by Jonas Savimbi. It is the first time the US has officially implied that Angolans are involved in the conflict. The international dimensions of the eastern Zaire conflict have not diminished; the remarks about Angolan involvement came on the same day that the Zairean government accused Uganda of amassing troops in

The Field Coordinator for UNHCR based in Goma, Filippo Grandi, said yesterday that UNHCR "categorically denies" allegations that 500,000 Hutu refugees in eastern Zaire have been killed or have disappeared. Grandi told AFP in Goma that UNHCR would have known if massacres on a large scale had taken place, and said the international community "should not play around with words as serious as 'genocide'". He said there was no doubt that some refugees had been killed, but "there was nothing to prove organised massacres". He described the figure of 500,000 as "pure fantasy". This week the Belgium Minister for Development and his spokesman said there are reports of "genocidal acts" in eastern Zaire, by rebels - although a statement by the Belgian Foreign Ministry later emphasized that the Belgian government was interested in reports of killings by all parties in Zaire. The French Foreign Ministry said yesterday that it considered the genocide reports "reliable" and called for an international enquiry. There has been no independent monitoring of human rights in rebel-held and government-controlled eastern Zaire to-date.

* On February 26, the Cyangugu court in southwestern Rwanda, sentenced Thedodore Munyangabe to death and to pay compensation of more than 34 million Rwandan francs. He was found guilty of crimes of genocide and other crimes against humanity, reported state-run Rwandan radio. He has 15 days in which to appeal. Between 27 December and 18 February 1997, 18 judgements have been handed down in genocide trials. Eleven of these were death sentences, six were life imprisonments, and one was an acquittal, reports the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (UNHRFOR). UNHRFOR, while welcoming the start of genocide trials has "noted concerns" regarding aspects of the proceedings, in particular the lack of legal representation.

The latest report from the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (UNHRFOR) states that, since the beginning of January, "the human rights and security situation has drastically deteriorated... in particular in the four prefectures bordering Zaire." UNHRFOR received reports of the killings of 424 Rwandans in 55 incidents. The report (UNHRFOR/UPD/13/2) indicates that at least 163 of these killings were allegedly perpetrated by agents of the state - 107 of which took place in the course of military operations in Ruhengeri. The ex-FAR and Interahamwe militia are blamed with 42 killings - mostly of genocide survivors and witnesses. The UNHRFOR also reports that 99,300 persons were detained in central prisons and local detention centres at the end of January. These do not include detainees in military facilities, to which UNHRFOR does not have access.

* The UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Burundi, Marc Faguy, left Burundi yesterday after months attempting to persuade Burundian leaders to pursue a political, non-military solution, and implement a ceasefire. He told journalists that Burundi leaders had expressed a willingness to negotiate.

A US diplomat in Bujumbura said yesterday that deposed Burundian president Sylvestre Ntibantunganya was still residing in US embassy property. The former president's party, Front for Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU) said on Tuesday that Buyoya had persuaded Ntibantunganya to leave, reported AFP.

* Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni bet a journalist in March 1996 that rebel leader Joseph Kony would be killed or captured in about seven months; but he lost the $1,000 bet. "Our work is to kill these people, and we shall crush them", Museveni announced at a press conference last March. The journalist reportedly declined the wager for lack of a stake, but has recieved the money in two installments from the president's office, the Monitor newspaper reported today. Journalist Tamale Mirundi recieved a million Ugandan shillings.

Nairobi, 28 February 1997, 15:15 GMT


[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: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 18:23:15 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 111 for 28 Feb 1997 97.2.28 Message-ID: <>

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

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