Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up #12: 2-7 June 1996

Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up #12: 2-7 June 1996

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network

Tel: +254 2 441125
Fax: +254 2 448816

This is number 12 in a series of weekly reports from IRIN on general developments in the Great Lakes region. Sources for the information below include UN, NGO, ICRC and other international organizations and media reports. IRIN issues these reports for the benefit of the humanitarian community, but accepts no responsibility as to the accuracy of the original sources.

2 - 7 June 1996

# Non-governmental organisations in Burundi suspended operations for a week following the killing of three ICRC staff members on 4 June in an ambush near the northwest tip of Burundi. UN agencies agreed on Friday to suspend operations for one day on Tuesday 11 June in protest at the killings and to express solidarity with other aid workers. The ICRC workers - two Swiss nationals and an Italian - were killed when their vehicle, the first of a two car convoy, was fired on as they returned from a mission to evaluate medical and non-food assistance in Cibitoke province. ICRC suspended its operations in Burundi following the ambush - the worst attack involving ICRC staff worldwide in three years - and is presently reviewing the situation. Cibitoke is the most dangerous region in Burundi and has been out of bounds for UN personnel since September 1995. Hutu militia are reported to control large parts of Cibitoke, while the Army is said to control only the main town centre. The ICRC is the last major agency operating in Cibitoke.

The Government of Burundi condemned the killings as a "heinous crime" and announced an inquiry into the attack. Burundi's Prime Minister, Antoine Nduwayo also called on Thursday for a common front against "organised crime" and called for the doubling of the size of the Army. The Prime Minister warned that Burundi was heading towards its own destruction if crime was accepted as a day to day event. Three days after the ICRC ambush, news organisations in Nairobi received a fax purporting to be an order from the National Council for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD/FDD) to Hutu militias to attack embassies, international organisations and all expatriates in Burundi. The fax, said to be from Bukavu and dated 25 May, carried the name of Burundi's former Interior Minister Leonard Nyangoma, now the head of the CNDD/FDD. News agencies say that all indications are that the fax was a forgery. A spokesperson for the CNDD/FDD has denied involvement in the shooting of the ICRC workers and has called for an independent inquiry into their deaths.

UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali condemned the killings "in the strongest terms" and has called on all parties in Burundi to refrain from violence. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Madame Sadako Ogata, and the Secretary-General of the OAU, Salim Ahmed Salim, also made a fresh joint appeal to Burundi leaders to end the violence.

The killings follow the announcement by France on 28 May that it has suspended all its military cooperation and has reduced its civilian aid programmes to Burundi. From 9 June there will be only one French military adviser left in the country. The French school in Bujumbura closed early last month and all non-essential French nationals have been advised to leave. The Belgian school, due to close for the summer on 15 June, was urged by Brussels to close earlier and nationals without urgent business have also been advised to leave. France was quoted by news agencies on Tuesday as saying that it will not intervene militarily in Burundi except in the case of a humanitarian emergency. A UNSECOORD security assessment mission, meanwhile, began work in Burundi on 29 May and discussed the prevailing situation with UN agencies. Agency heads are reported to have expressed serious concerns about the mounting tensions between the international community and the Burundi population.

# Peace talks between Burundian political leaders resumed in Mwanza, Tanzania on Tuesday but a spokesperson for the Union for National Progress (UPRONA) said that little progress had been made. Prior to the opening of the talks, UPRONA said that a major sticking point would probably be "the issue of the importance of the resolution of violence". According to news sources, former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere and former US President Jimmy Carter both presided over the meeting. The Australian Government contributed Australian dollars 25,000 to the peace talks.

# The Canadian Minister of International Cooperation is hosting a meeting in Geneva to discuss the situation in Burundi in a bid to secure a common approach amongst donors and UN agencies in support of peace negotiations and aid issues. The meeting, which will bring together donors, UN Agencies and the OAU, will be held on 17 and 18 June. Amongst the main objectives are discussions of a possible programme of development support for Burundi, the review of contingency planning and consideration of initiatives which might support Burundian leaders in their dialogue by "broadening the constituency for peace in the country".

UNDP, meanwhile, announced that on 30 May a Cooperation Plan was signed between UNDP and the Government of Burundi for a US $8.2 million package of rehabilitation, reconstruction and humanitarian support for Burundi. The Plan is for a period of two years. Radio Rwanda also announced this week that Denmark has allocated some US$ 10 million for assistance to Rwanda and Burundi.

# Some 6,000 Burundian refugees are reported to have attempted to enter the Kigoma region in Tanzania from 27 May to 2 June. Reports from Kigoma are that some 2,000 managed to cross the border but were returned the next day by Tanzanian soldiers. Although Tanzania's borders have remained officially closed to refugees, Burundians have continued to cross successfully into Ngara region in Tanzania.

# Almost 4,000 Rwandan refugees have been transferred from Kibezi to Magara camp in Ngozi, Burundi. The 15,363 remaining Kibezi population are to be moved to Magara (current population 42,922) by UNHCR in collaboration with the Governor of Ngozi. A proposal to transfer all of the Rwandan refugees in Burundi to a site further from the Rwandan border is being reviewed due to the security situation in the interior of the country. Some 2,000 new refugees from Rwanda, meanwhile, are reported to have arrived in northern Burundi last week from Cyangugu Prefecture in Rwanda (see Rwanda section below).

# Shooting broke out in Goma town on 31 May and the airport was closed for four days following an ambush in which three Zairian soldiers were killed and seven more injured on the road between Kibumba and Katale camps for Rwandan refugees in North Kivu, Zaire. Four of the seven injured soldiers also died. Vehicles belonging to humanitarian agencies were confiscated by soldiers and stores in Goma were looted. The soldiers had demanded their dead and wounded colleagues be flown to Kinshasa. During the violence, five civilians were reportedly killed and several dozen wounded. Although some aid workers were temporarily evacuated from Goma, the situation calmed by Tuesday and relief operations were able to resume. The soldiers were ambushed as they headed north to reinforce a military operation in Rutshuru launched to disarm the Bangilima militia who have been fighting in the conflict in Masisi and Rutshuru. At least 20 Zairian soldiers have been killed in North Kivu since January. Friday's ambush was the second major attack in the past month.

From 1-4 June, roads into Goma from Uganda were intermittently closed for security reasons. On 5 June, some 20 assailants are reported to have attacked one of the border crossing points at Bunagana which is close to the Rwandan and Ugandan borders and lies 30 kilometers east of the Katale Rwandan refugee camp. All homes were searched and 28 persons were killed. The WFP compound at Bunagana was attacked. Zaire has blamed Uganda for the attack but a Government official from North Kivu has said that the involvement of refugees in the attack "is not totally excluded".

# The UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs-led mission to investigate the deteriorating security situation in Masisi, Eastern Zaire completed its visit to Zaire last week. The mission, comprising representatives of DHA, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP arrived in Kinshasa on 31 May and had meetings with Prime Minister Kengo wa Dondo, Minister of Interior Kamanda wa Kamanda, diplomatic missions, UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations represented in Kinshasa.

On 5 June, after being delayed due to the security situation in Goma, the mission arrived in Goma and met with UN agencies and NGOs working in Masisi and Rutshuru. The agencies described the escalation of the conflict in recent weeks, the level of population displacement, the difficulties of implementing humanitarian relief programmes in the area and their broader concerns about the security situation in the region. The mission is currently considering its findings and will submit a report to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in the near future. The mission followed increased alarm about the situation and fears for the safety of Tutsi populations under siege in the Masisi region. Most of these groups are now reported to have already left Masisi or will be removed from danger shortly. Following the Zaire mission, the UN Team briefly visited Kigali and Burundi.

# Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko has written to the UN Secretary-General agreeing to the deployment of international observers in Goma and Bukavu airports in order to "continuously monitor the flow of goods in and out of the airports". He has also agreed that observers could be deployed along Zaire's border with Rwanda and Burundi. President Mobutu said that he had agreed to the deployment because his country is regularly a victim of unjustified accusations concerning arms trafficking. President Mobutu's decision comes after the UN Security Council on 23 April approved measures aimed at tightening the two year old embargo banning the arms exports to the former Rwandan government. The Secretary-General has announced that he intends to dispatch a technical mission to the region to look into the deployment.

# Insurgency activity continues to be reported in Rwanda, mainly from Cyangugu Prefecture in the southwest. Following a day-time ambush on 3 June in Nyungwe Forest road (the main road from Butare to Cyangugu) and unconfirmed reports of an earlier ambush on 31 May, the road was placed out of bounds to UN personnel. A convoy system to facilitate the safe travel of UN vehicles through the forest is being established.

A previously unknown Rwandan Hutu movement claimed this week it had begun an armed struggle inside Rwanda to overthrow the government and army. In a statement sent to news agency AFP on 1 June, the People in Arms to Liberate Rwanda (PALIR) called on the Rwandan people to liberate the country. The statement said that its base was Cyangugu.

Rwandan state radio said on Thursday that 16 people had been arrested for attempting to poison officials, soldiers and survivors of the 1994 genocide. The radio said that poisoning attempts had become a serious security issue. Diplomats however said that similar rumours are rife in Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire and Tanzania and that the radio report "smacked of scare-mongering". The UN, meanwhile, announced this week that it had lifted the ban on its staff members bringing their families to Rwanda and had upgraded the security rating for Kigali. Travel restrictions, however, still apply to the Prefectures of Cyangugu, Ruhengeri, Gisenyi and Kibuye. All four remain at phase three security level.

# The UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda has questioned a military account of the deaths of 46 detainees in Bugarama detention centre on 18-19 May. A report released on the killings said that inspections of the site "do not fully support the account of events reported by local military authorities". The military authorities reported that the detention centre was attacked by a group of 40-45 armed persons, believed to be Interahamwe. After a heavy exchange of fire the attackers were said to have thrown grenades at the building when they were unable to open the doors. No signs of the impact from bullets, however, were found on the exterior of the detention centre walls or nearby buildings and only five empty cartridge cases were found in the area.

# A technical hitch appears to have delayed the transfer of four more suspects in the Rwandan genocide from Cameroon to face trial by the International Tribunal in Arusha. Mr Andronico Adede, clerk of the International Tribunal, was in Cameroon last week to negotiate the transfer of the four detainees, who include former Rwandan Army Colonel Theoneste Bagosora - described as one of the most wanted in connection with the genocide. Cameroon is reported to have said that it has no objection in principle to giving up the four and that only technical problems remained to be resolved. Lawyers for detainees already indicted by the Tribunal, meanwhile, have complained of inadequate time to prepare a defence and have demanded visas to visit Rwanda and interview witnesses.

# The Government of Rwanda has accepted the appointment of Mr. Omar Bakhet as UNDP Resident Representation and UN Resident Coordinator. Mr. Bakhet will succeed Mr. Sukehiro Hasegawa who will be taking up a new appointment in New York. Mr. Bakhet is currently Deputy Director of External Relations for UNHCR Geneva.

# Following the incorporation of its concerns in the draft agreement, the Government of Rwanda has agreed to the terms of reference for the establishment of a UN Office in Rwanda for an initial period of six months. The UN office will have its own premises in Kigali and is expected to be operational shortly.

# A Russian built cargo plane crashed as it tried to take off from Zaire's Njili airport at Kinshasa on Thursday killing at least eight crew. Witnesses said that the Ilyushin 76 crashed about 200 yards from the runway and burst into flames. It was not clear who owned the plane. In Zaire's worst aviation disaster in January, a Russian-built Antonov 32 failed to take off and crashed into a crowded Kinshasa market killing more than 300 people. Two Russian pilots have been charged with manslaughter in connection with the January crash.

# African military chiefs have agreed to try to enhance the continents role in the rapid deployment of peace-keeping forces under the auspices of the OAU. During a meeting in Addis Ababa this week, attended by generals from 18 African countries, a declaration issued at the end of the session called on member states to earmark a trained and well equipped military contingent which could be called upon at a moment's notice by the UN to participate in peace-keeping operations or in exceptional cases by the OAU. It was also proposed that a military staff unit be set up at the headquarters of the OAU in Addis Ababa to plan, organise and deploy peace keeping missions.

# Tanzanian authorities have dropped murder charges against the captain of a ferry which sank in Lake Victoria killing several hundred people. The captain and eight other senior officials from the Tanzania Railways Corporation, owners of the Mv Bukoba which sank on 21 May, have all been released from jail unconditionally. So far 403 bodies have been recovered from the Bukoba. More than 1,000 passengers are believed to have been on board when she sank. Only 114 people survived.

# Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has offered amnesty to the West Nile Bank Front rebels fighting in the northwestern of the country. President Museveni said if the group abandoned war he would welcome them. The WBNF which is loyal to Idi Amin has stepped up its operations in the West Nile Region following its incursion into the country last month from camps in southern Sudan. Following a request by tribal leaders, the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony is also reported to have said that he wants peace talks with President Museveni. The President has said that his government will not talk directly with the LRA but can back the elders if they wished to enter into dialogue with them. The LRA has stepped up its attacks since its preferred candidate in the May presidential elections, Paul Ssemogerere was defeated. An Army spokesman, meanwhile, said that 23 government soldiers were killed by members of the LRA on Thursday in an ambush some 366 kms north of Kampala.

-> Via the UN DHA Integrated Regional Information Network.
-> The material contained in this communication may not be taken
-> to reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
-> UN DHA IRIN Tel: +254 2 441125 Fax: +254 2 448816
-> e-mail: for more information


From: Christopher Hurd <> Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 19:37:34 +0300 (GMT+0300) Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Weekly Round Up #12: 2-7 June 1996 (96.6.10) Message-Id: <>

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific