Great Lakes: IRIN Update 120, 3/6/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 120, 3/6/97

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
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Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 120 for 6 Mar 1997 97.3.6

* Hundreds of people are fleeing Kisangani, eastern Zaire, ahead of a feared arrival of rebels, reports AFP. From Kisangani, AFP reports that the quay is full of men, women and children trying to bargain for places in boats leaving Kisangani. Today pirogues and other vessels were leaving "crammed full of residents desperate to get out". The rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) is reported to be besieging Kisangani. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are also believed to be near the town, reports AFP.

A column of several thousand people approaching Kisangani was spotted yesterday when a UN mission overflew the area with Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation, Jan Pronk. Pronk said he expected the first of the refugees to reach Kisangani by the weekend. Pronk met representatives of the Zairean government and aid organisations in Kisangani, and said the best option would be to locate the refugees near Ubundu, 200 kilometers southeast of Kisangani.

* In an overflight of the Ubunda area today, the World Food Programme reports the arrival of groups of refugees in Ubundu. According to WFP, the Ubundu airstrip was not good enough for the DC3 to land. WFP plans to evaluate the condition of the airstrip tomorrow with a smaller plane, and hopes to carry out an assessment of the newly arriving refugees. Today, WFP delivered 9 tons of food to Punia, in two planes.

* More than 120 Zairean soldiers have surrendered to rebel troops in Kindu since the ADFL took over, reports news agencies. The rebels say they recovered about 100 assault rifles, including M-16 submachine guns, Kalashnikovs, an armoured car and munitions. The ADFL have been repeatedly broadcasting radio messages appealing to government troops to surrender. Rebels say that among those taken prisoner in the Kindu fight are former Rwandan soldiers.

In Kindu, the ADFL rebels have encountered problems as well as applause by the local population, according to an AFP report. Villagers became angry with the ADFL "justice minister" Kongolo Mwenze, when he said he had asked district leaders and traditional chiefs to appoint new authorities for Maniema Province. A crowd of nearly 1,000 "caused an uproar" and shouted that such people were puppets of President Mobutu Sese Seko. Mwenze had to call a temporary halt to the meeting; he told journalists that it was difficult to avoid using the already established local figures when setting up a new administration. Mwenze also asked villagers for financial contributions to the ADFL cause, and called for civil servants to work without pay. He declared the war must have priority. Kindu is still recovering from extensive looting by retreating government soldiers, and markets and businesses have been brought to a standstill.

* Regional sources say rebels are advancing into Kasais and Shaba province - Kabila's home area - where they appear to have support from the local population. The latest rebel conquest, Manono, is said to have been taken with a fight this week. Observers speculate that Lumbumbashi - a strong opposition area with a history of political secessionist sentiment - is likely to independently declare itself under rebel control.

* Zairean state-radio said on March 3 that the Zairean Human Rights Association (Azadho) "had confirmed the massive killings bing carried out in the Masisi and Rutshuru areas by the Rwandan troops sent to help Laurent Kabila". The broadcast said there was talk of "a real genocide of Hutus" by the ADFL rebels and the Rwandan troops. It said alarm was raised in the wake of the stance of the Belgian government.

* Martin Griffiths, Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Great Lakes region told a news conference in New York that UN plans to repatriate almost 400,000 Rwandan refugees from eastern Zaire were "well-advanced" - but said all depended on the issue of security and of separation of Rwandan militia from genuine refugees. Griffiths added that the UN hoped there would be two land corridors passing through the border town of Bukavu, and said "some kind of international monitoring" would be required.

* The US State Department said on Wednesday that it was too early to send a multinational force to Zaire. Spokesman Nicholas Burns said Washington had formally asked rebel leader Laurent-Desire Kabila on Tuesday to open humanitarian corridors for the movement of refugees back to Rwanda "this week". Burns said there was no committment by the US to a multinational force, as recently suggested by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

* Vatican Radio reported yesterday that it had unconfirmed reports that nine Rwandan priests and 3 nuns were killed in Kalima on February 25, after the ADFL took control. According to the broadcast, the priests and nuns had come from Bukavu and asked to go to Kasongo, near to Kalima, but had not been able to travel because of lack of transport.

* The Zairean government has ordered a popular private television station to shut down for three months for violating a ban on political broadcasts, report Reuters. The owner, Ngongo Luwowo, said his Tel Kin Malebo (TKM) channel would ignore the order, describing it as "illegal". TKM is one of the most watched private TV stations, and has built an audience on its lively political debates.

* Zambia has appealed to donors to assist the government to deal with the influx of Zairean refugees. Zambia's home affairs minister, Chitalu Sampa, told parliament in Lusaka that 29 refugees have died and that conditions for refugees from Zaire are congested, with inadequate shelter, feeding and medical facilities. The refugees are at Mpulungu port, northern Zambia, the main refugee port entry. The minister said that as of last month, the number of refuges was 240 in Kaputa, 327 in Chienge, 1,470 in Natende and 738 at Maheba refugee camp in north western Zambia. Humanitarian sources say that some of the Zairean soldiers arriving refuse to be considered as refugees.


We would like to remind you that now IRIN updates are translated in French on a trial basis. If you wish to receive IRIN updates in French you can subscribe at <>.

Nous souhaiterions vous rappeler que les "IRIN Updates" sont maintenant traduits en francais, pour une periode test, ceux qui le desirent peuvent s'abonner en contactant <>. Merci

Nairobi, 6 March 1997, 1:00 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 19:07:11 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 120 for 6 Mar 1997 97.3.6 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970306190408.28466A-ength: 7056

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

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