Great Lakes: IRIN Update 112, 03/01/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 112, 03/01/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
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Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 112 for 1 Mar 1997 97.3.1

* International staff of UN agencies and international NGOs were today evacuated by 12.15 local time from Kisangani, eastern Zaire, to the Zairean capital, Kinshasa. Three flights evacuated international staff. A WFP representative said that national staff remained in Kisangani, and would try to maintain operations and communications "as best they can under the circumstances". The departure of international humanitarian agencies from Tingi-Tingi and Kisangani effectively severs established channels of communication with the largest camp for Rwandans in eastern Zaire. One UN official said to IRIN that the pull-out "places considerable responsibility on UNHCR to locate the refugees afresh and re-establish contact".

* A rebel spokesman told Reuters on Friday that ADFL troops were six kilometres from the Tingi-Tingi camps, but that the advance was being held back "to resolve the problem of the refugees". Spokesman Mwenze Kongoro, described as rebel "minister of justice", said from Kigali that the ADFL would eventually take Tingi-Tingi "but not right now". One NGO said that its local staff in the camp had been "primarily Rwandans". Rwandans from the Tingi-Tingi camps - holding some 160,000 people - started leaving the camp yesterday in fear of rebel attack. Camp leaders, however, have exercised strong control over the camp population, and are known to be defending the front line. Sources from Tingi-Tingi say the camp leadership set up its own policing, jails and justice system.

* Rebel radio "Voice of the People" said today that ADFL troops had taken Kindu, but were still "chasing the last enemy soldiers out". It said there was still sporadic fighting. The Zairean defence ministry denied today that the garrision town of Kindu fell to the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) on Thursday, and claims to have sent in reinforcements.

* Rebel radio claimed on Friday that a military aircraft belonging to the Zairean armed forces was shot down on Thursday morning near Kisangani by the ADFL.

* Yesterday, the US government urged both Zaire and rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila to restrict their military activities to avoid jeopardizing attempts at peace talks in South Africa. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the US called upon the parties "to refrain from any military actions in the coming days that would undermine prospects for peace and that would create further sufferings and instability in Zaire itself".

* The South African government yesterday denied allegations that Zairean envoy Honore Ngbanda had no authorisation to attend the talks. On Thursday, Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo told Reuters news agency that Kabila was considered "a puppet". Kabila has now reportedly left South Africa. There have been no face-to-face talks yet between the warring parties, but South African, US and UN officials have held "close proximity talks" with Kabila and Zairean envoy, Honore Ngbanda, who is President Mobutu's nephew and senior security advisor. There have been conflicting responses towards the talks from members of the Zairean government, which says "foreign troops" must first be withdrawn from eastern Zaire before a peace conference can be held.

* The Joint OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Mohamed Sahnoun, arrived in Paris on Friday for talks with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and other officials on the Zaire crisis.

Nairobi, 1 March 1997, 11:05 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: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 14:08:40 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 112 for 1 Mar 1997 97.3.1 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970301141024.842G-ength: 4109

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

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