Great Lakes: IRIN Update 115, 03/04/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 115, 03/04/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

Tel: +254 2 622147
Fax: +254 2 622129

Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 115 for 4 Mar 1997 97.3.4

Journalists were yesterday flown by the Zairean army 150 kilometers west of Kisangani, where they met the head of the refugee column who fled Tingi-Tingi last week. The refugees told journalists the Zairean army had tried to divert them to Ubundu, to the south, but that many were heading for Kisangani. The refugees said they had fled Tingi-Tingi camps - home to some 170,000 Rwandans - on Friday after hearing mortar fire nearby, reports Reuters. The Governor of the Upper Zaire region said the refugees would be diverted off the main Kisangani road and received in Ubundu, about 100 kilometers south. He said Kisangani already had "too many problems with the displaced, with the local population, with unemployment, and with food shortages", quotes Reuters. The journalists were flown by military helicopter, in a trip organised by General Mahele, chief of staff.

Sources in Kisangani say "several hundred" refugees have arrived over the last two days. Aid workers report aerial sightings of people moving in columns towards Ubundu.

About 200 wounded Zairean soldiers and Rwandan ex-FAR were brought to Kisangani for medical treatment. Informed sources said they were from the Lubutu region, report AFP. AFP also reports military sources in Zaire saying that foreign mercenaries and Zairean soldiers in Kisangani have prevented looting by civil guard units and soldiers who had deserted from the eastern front. Sources in Kisangani report it is calm, except for occasional, routine shooting incidents inside the town.

Rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila flew journalists to Kindu, eastern Zaire, today in a DC3 aircraft, confirming control by the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL). This is also the first confirmation that Kabila has use of a plane.

The ADFL claims it took control of Monono, a town in Shaba province.Rebels said they entered the southeastern town of Monono, and its airport, on Sunday. The capture was announced to journalists in Goma by rebel spokesman Mwenze Kongolo. Manono - an old Belgian mining town - is in the north of Shaba province, about 250 kilometres southwest of the strategic port of Kalemie, which is already under the control of ADFL. There has been no independent confirmation. According to the spokesman, there was virtually no fighting and the local people "forced government forces to flee", reports AFP. Rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila comes from the region, and observers believe the ADFL will encounter little resistence there. Unconfirmed reports say Kabila's flag is already flying in some places in Shaba.

The rebels say they aim to capture Kisangani, the last military strong-hold in eastern Zaire. According to sources in Kinshasa, the Zairean army is moving the headquarters of its counter-offensive to Mbuji-Maya, the regional capital of Kasai Oriental, neighbouring Shaba province.

The governor of Upper Zaire on Monday accused humanitarian organisations who have fled Kisangani of "lying" when they stated they could no longer work safely. He said accusations by the aid agencies that planes for humanitarian aid had been requisitioned by the army were "false", reports AFP. Governor Bumbaya Bassongo said the humanitarian agencies had left as a consequence of "a political decision taken by the UN on the advice of some of its members who work for the rebellion". He directed much of the criticism towards UNHCR.

The Roman Catholic NGO Caritas yesterday evacuated remaining staff from Kisangani. Caritas was one of the few international organisations which remained in Kisangani after the international evacuation on Saturday. On Sunday, members of Caritas were able to go to Punia, 300 kilometers southeast of Kisangani, where several thousand refugees have gathered since fleeing the eastern Kivu provinces in January. Caritas said Punia had also become a destination for refugees from Kalima, some 100 kilometers further south.

Rwanda's economy could reap significant benefit from the capture of eastern Zaire by the ADFL rebels, reports Reuters. Prosper Musafiri, a macroeconomist in the Rwandan planning ministry is quoted as saying he is "very optimistic that as Rwanda integrates further with eastern Zaire it will bring great benefits for both countries". Like Rwanda, eastern Zaire produces coffee and tea and has vast reserves of gold and other minerals. It previously exported meat, fresh vegetables and tobacco to the rest of the country.

Belgium Foreign Trade Minister Philippe Maystadt announced on February 27 that the construction of the munitions factory in Eldoret, Kenya, would be stopped until further notice. The factory is being constructed with the support of Belgian arms supplier, FN Herstal, and the Belgian government has said it wants formal guarantees that Kenya will not sell bullets to Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire. Foreign Trade Minister Philippe Maystadt is responsible for export licences for companies in Belgium's French-speaking southern half. According to the weekly regional newspaper, The East African, the decision to disrupt the $26.7 million on a question of foreign policy is "a modest victory for opposition politicians, who have been opposed to their country's involvement on the grounds that Nairobi has a poor human rights record and bullets from the factory could end up in Sudan and in Kenya's other war-torn neighbours to the west". The East African quotes a European expert on armaments as saying that the Rwandese and Burundi Hutu fighters in exile would likely be oriented towards the 7.62 calibre bullets produced at the factory because of their "past involvement with Belgian and French governments and the fact that they are armed mainly with NATO weapons".

Nairobi, 4 March 1997, 13:35 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: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 13:43:52 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 115 for 4 Mar 1997 97.3.4 Message-ID: <>

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific