Great Lakes: IRIN Update 119, 3/6/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 119, 3/6/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
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Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 119 for 6 Mar 1997 97.3.6

* The rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) rejected calls for a ceasefire yesterday, saying it would continue to fight until the regime of President Mobutu Sese Seko agreed to one-to-one negotiations. Rebel spokesman Kongolo Mwenze said a UN peace plan - accepted yesterday by the government - worked "against" the rebels, reports AFP. Kinshasa yesterday agreed to a five-point peace plan endorsed by the UN Security Council (see IRIN Update 118). The Zairean government also called for international monitors to oversee its implementation.

* News agencies continue to report ADFL rebels are advancing on three fronts towards the provincial capital of Kisangani, eastern Zaire. Rebel radio in Bukavu, eastern Zaire, said yesterday that "the liberation of the town of Kisangani by Laurent Kabila's troops is only a few hours away". In the recent rapid territorial gains of the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), such rebel announcements have become characteristic of the "psychological" advance on besieged government towns.

* CNN reported today that "there was no evidence" of the massacre of 25,000 civilians and refugees in Tingi-Tingi camps, eastern Zaire, alleged by the government of Zaire on Tuesday. Tingi-Tingi camps held some 170,000 Rwandans before they fled last week. According to the CNN report, fleeing refugees left behind "dozens of the sick and dying" and headed off towards Kisangani and Ubundu. However, some of the most vulnerable refugees left the camp in empty food trucks before the exodus and are being given assitance in Kisangani.

* Humanitarian agencies are "urgently examining" ways in which to resume relief operations for refugees and IDPs in eastern Zaire. A United Nations mission flew yesterday to Kisangani and Punia, accompanied by the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation, Jan Pronk. Tens of thousands of refugees who dispersed from the Tingi-Tingi camps are expected to arrive in Ubundu, south of Kisangani, after being diverted there by the military.While there is little reliable information available on the whereabouts and welfare of the 170,000 refugees, it was expected that the majority would eventually emerge from the forest and mass along the 150 kilometer eastern bank of the Zaire River between Ubundu and Lowa. This is a densely forested area, and leaves refugees with no real escape route if the rebels are successful in their advance on Kisangani.

* The US state department has expressed extreme concern about alleged rebel threats against humanitarian personnel working in Resettlement Camps in Burundi. It said the threats had to be treated seriously, given recent attacks on NGO personnel in Rwanda and the past killings of ICRC and UNHCR staff in Burundi. A public withdrawal of the threat is being demanded.

* In Burundi, two people were killed and another went missing in an overnight attack by Hutu rebels in Rumonge in Bururi, southern Burundi, national radio reported on Wednesday. Seven houses were burnt, and ten others looted. Livestock was killed.

* In its 65th ministerial meeting in Tripoli, the Organisation of African Unity responded to an appeal from Burundi to lift regional sanctions, with the following draft recommendations:

o Commends the leaders of the countries of the Great Lakes Region and the facilitator of the peace process, Mwalimu Julius Nyrere, for their on going efforts to bring about a peaceful and negotiated settlement to the conflict in (Burundi)

o Encourages all the parties to the conflict to work towards ending the cycle of violence and unacceptable killings of innocent people including refugees, especially women, children and the elderly

o Appeals to the countries of the region which imposed sanctions in Burundi to carry out an objective evaluation of the situation prevailing in the country as the result of implementation of the sanctions and to review these sanctions in the light of progress in the peace process

o Appeals to the International Community to continue to provide relief assistance to Burundi, in order to facilitate the socio-economic development and reconstruction of that country.

* Drought, warfare and disease are keeping food from millions of people in 14 countries, despite the fact cereal production is running at record levels in sub-Saharan Africa, says a report released yesterday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). It urges donors and relief agencies to secure the speedy delivery of assistance to eastern Zaire, and to continue emergency assistance to returning refugees and displaced persons in Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia and Sierra Leone. On Zaire, the report described the food situation as "desperate": "Hundreds of thousands of refugees and the local population continue to flee from the conflict and their food and health situation is precarious".

The report also recommends urgency in doing "everything possible" to aid Rwandese and Burundian refugees displaced by fighting between rebels and government troops. On Rwanda, FAO says production of beans, the staple food crop, dropped by 12%. This drop, coupled by the massive return of more than a million Rwandan former refugees, means one third of the Rwandan population is being fed by relief agencies (about 2.6 million people). In Burundi, FAO says distribution of humanitarian assistance is being hampered by insecurity and fuel shortages following the imposition of regional sanctions in July 1996.

* Uganda has sent out an appeal to the internatioanl donors to support more than 2.1 million people faced with starvation. The government has released Ush284 (US$284,000) as an emergency allocation for food, but it is not enough, according to a Ministerial statement in parliament yesterday. The Kenyan Daily Nation reports from Kampala that Ugandan Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Etyang, that a high-level ad hoc committee is looking into the food needs of people affected in 19 districts in the north, north-east and western parts of the country. The areas are affected by drought and insurgence.

* About 100 mainly Rwandan refugees are stranded at Wilson Airport, Nairobi, after the Kenyan government refused them entry. Reports in the Daily Nation and Kenya Times say the refugees flew in from Kisangani, eastern Zaire, on Saturday and are being held at the airport departure lounge under armed guard. The Daily Nations said the UNHCR yesterday dispatched food and blankets to the group, and had been screening for "genuine cases." More than half the group are women and children. The state-owned Kenya Times said that a church minister and a local businessman were operating a "human trafficking cartel through which refugees fleeing from the trouble spots in the Great Lakes region". It quoted sources within the Immigration and Police department saying the refugees paid foreign currency to be flown to Nairobi, be provided with fake travel documents, and receive immigration documents.

Several hundred Rwandans from Kisangani and Tingi-Tingi camps have arrived in Kenya (before the dispersal of about 170,000 Rwandans from the camps) over the last few weeks, until the "elite exodus" was exposed in the press last week.

Nairobi, 6 March 1997, 13:20 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: Thu, 6 Mar 1997 13:20:51 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 119 for 6 Mar 1997 97.3.6 (fwd) Message-ID: <>

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

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