Great Lakes: IRIN Update 114, 03/03/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 114, 03/03/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

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Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 114 for 3 Mar 1997 97.3.3

* About 300 Rwandan refugees arrived today in Kisangani, and are staying in the General Hospital compound. The refugees are reportedly women and children in poor condition who were evacuated from Tingi-Tingi on Friday; the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) claim to have taken Tingi-Tingi and its airstrip on Saturday. World Food Programme says it is attempting food distribution today for 35,000 people in Kisangani, organised by CARITAS and WFP local staff. Food is intended for internally displaced people and the newly arrived refugees. NGO Cepza Celpa is also working with the internally displaced population in Kisangani (NOTE: IRIN erroneously referred to Cepza Celpa as a French NGO in Up-date 113. We apologise for this error).

* Zairean state-run radio on Sunday condemned the evacuation of international staff from Kisangani and Tingi-Tingi, saying that representatives of UN bodies "are responsible for sowing panic and confusion among the population in Kisangani, Tingi-Tingi, Amisi and Kindu". It called the withdrawal "untimely". The Ministry of Defence also denied the fall of Kindu, and denied that rebels were 100 kilometers from Kisangani.

* Speculation continues over the fate of hundreds of thousands of Rwandan and Burundian refugees in the conflict zone, but no hard information is available to identify the location and number of refugee groups. News agencies say large groups of people are reportedly heading towards Kisangani.

* The UN High Commissioners for Refugees Sagata Ogata has hailed the offer by Zairean rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila to help repatriate Rwandan refugees by establishing a safe corridor. Spokesman for the High Commissioner, Fernando Del Mundo said no concrete plans had yet been made.

* Well-placed sources in Kinshasa today reported that the Zairean army had said that the military headquarters of the counter-offensive would be moved to Mbujimayi, which is about 600 kilometers due west of Kalemi.

* Joint OAU/UN Special Representative for the Great Lakes Region, Mohamed Sahnoun, said on Saturday that the crisis in eastern Zaire "could even be of the magnitude of Rwanda in 1994", reports Reuters. Talking to journalists after briefing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Sahnoun called for an immediate ceasefire to give humanitarian agencies access to those in need.

* The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) has called for an immediate ceasefire in eastern Zaire, and withdrawal of all foreign forces including mercenaries. At the end of a three-day conference in Tripoli on Saturday, the OAU expressed "grave concern over the continuing deterioration of the security situation in the Great Lakes region" and urged "all states neighbouring Zaire as well as states outside the region to desist from getting involved in the conflict presently taking place in eastern Zaire". OAU delegates said the council ignored a Zairean government demand to delete wording calling for "the safe and voluntary repatriation from Zaire of the remaining Rwandan refugees". OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim said an African body in charge of resolving conflicts will meet in Lome, Togo, on March 26, to discuss the situation in the Great Lakes region, especially Zaire.

* Zairean rebels have taken the entire region bordering Uganda, reported Ugandan state-owned New Vision today. New Vision said a 50 kilometre stretch of territory along the border that had been held by Zairean troops and the rebel Ugandan West Nile Bank Front (WNBF), fell to the ADFL during the weekend. The report quoted un-named Ugandan security sources saying that the border towns of Aba and Bazil fell on Friday to ADFL. The Ugandan army says it has carried out "hot pursuit" raids into Zairean territory to attack Ugandan rebels, but denies supporting the ADFL rebels. The Zairean government has consistently accused Uganda of involvement in the eastern Zaire conflict.

* The Ugandan army seized a large cache of arms in the northern Kitgum district, AFP reports. Major General Salim Saleh, senior presidential advisor on military and political affairs in the nroth, said the army found landmines and ammunition belonging to rebels at Lela Bu, near the Sudanese border. The Major said the arms belonged to the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), saying the rebels used Kitgum as a transit point between southern Sudan and Uganda. The state-owned newspaper New Vision reported that the Ugandan army was deploying more troops and moving in weapons to the north to prepare for an anticipated LRA attack. President Yoweri Museveni is currently in Gulu district and will be touring border areas where Ugandan troops are deployed, said the New Vision.

* The Zambian Finance Minister, Ronald Penza, said today that the government will beef up its defences in the north of the country because of the number of refugees arriving from neighbouring Zaire, report new agencies. A well-informed source told IRIN that the Zambian government had been dealing with "drunken armed soldiers" fleeing conflict in eastern Zaire, and that it has been on alert for two weeks now. The government has replaced police patrols on the border with deployment of the regular army. Zambia has some 6,000 Zairean refugees at Natende camp in the northern provincial capital of Kasama, most having arrived through Mpulungu port on Lake Tanganyika.

* In Kenya's government-run newpaper Sunday Times, a commentary scorns South African President Mandela's attempts at mediation as "outside the spirit of the previous Nairobi summits which President Moi chaired". The commentary said talks with rebel leader Kabila were "legitimizing a dangerous course of a rebel shooting his way to power". It also complained of an "inadequate" international response. Since hosting the first two regional conferences, President Moi has rejected talks with rebels, and the rebels have denounced the Kenyan president as partisan. Regional leaders and UN officials have not yet offically announced the venue and date for the so-called "Nairobi 3" conference, but President Moi recently announced he was holding a major summit in Nairobi on March 12 on "conflict resolution". Observers believe this is an attempt by Moi to host "Nairobi 3" and regain the diplomatic initiative.

* The Rwandese government has called for the separation of the two United Nations tribunals in Arusha and the Hague. In a statement faxed to Arusha from Kigali, February 24, the government said that unless the separation was effected the UN International Tribunal for Rwanda would not achieve its objectives. The government accused the joint prosecutor, Judge Louise Arbour, based in the Netherlands office, of hampering the operations of the Tanzanian court. The statement said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan should have sacked Judge Arbour after an internal report found the tribunal on Rwanda to be ineffective. Two senior members of the tribunal submitted their resignation to the Secretary-General after they had been called to New York.

* A convicted ringleader of Rwanda's genocide, Froduald Karamira told Reuters that he had little faith in the system of justice in his country and believed he should have been tried as a political prisoner. He said he should be tried by a parallel United Nations genocide tribunal sitting at Arusha. Karamira's lawyer has appealed against the death sentence he recieved in February; he was found guilty of being a leader of the notorious Interahamwe militia and making radio appeals for people to kill their neighbours. The Arusha tribunal can deliver only life prison sentences as a maximum penalty.

* Pope John Paul 11 today appealed for peace in the Great Lakes region during a meeting with Zairean bishops. He called on the international communtiy to be more committed in finding a solution in Zaire, and denounced attacks against churches and Christian institutions in Zaire. "No well-intentioned man could ignore the fate of people who live in conditions that insult one's human dignity and whose lives are constantly in danger", he said.

Nairobi, 3 March 1997, 19:04 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: Mon, 3 Mar 1997 19:33:00 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 114 for 3 Mar 1997 97.3.3 Message-ID: <>

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

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