UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 138 on the Great Lakes (Friday 28 March 1997)
* Negotiations between the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) and the Zairean government seem likely to take place, after a second day of OAU-sponsored meetings concluded in Lome yesterday. Both sides in the conflict pledged to "respect the principle of a ceasefire and the principle of negotiations", a final communique from the Lome summit stated, according to AFP.
Radio Togo's announcement of the final communique announced "the day to start the negotiations and the proclamation of the ceasefire will be announced after the two delegations return and consult with their authorities". The OAU summit had attempted to bridge differences between the Zairean government and the ADFL by proposing a simultaneous start of talks and a ceasefire.
Gaetan Kakudji, the ADFL "foreign minister", told Radio France International today that the rebels still seek direct talks with Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko. Substantive talks are widely thought to be planned for next week in South Africa.
* The refugees between Ubundu and Kisangani are in very poor condition, and unexplained armed attacks have left some with bullet wounds, aid agencies and journalists report. A representative of Refugees International, who accompanied the train taking food from Kisangani to refugee groups to the south of the town, reported an acute shortage of clean water, sever malnutrition and adults and children with bullet wounds. The large group of refugees 82 kms spotted by air south of Kisangani has dispersed, and it is thought likely they are heading towards Kisangani. It is unclear if the ADFL will allow refugees at the Lula site, 7 kms south of Kisangani to remain, and how they would react to a swelling refugee population at Lula. A UNHCR spokesman today appealed to the ADFL to allow refugees to remain at Lula, according to the BBC.
Refugees told AFP they were attacked on Saturday about 50 kms south of Kisangani, and also at Ubundu itself. It was not clear who was responsible for the attacks.
In a press conference in Lome, Bizima Karaha, spokeman for the ADFL rejected the idea of a multinational force to monitor any possible ceasefire and provide a peace corridor for refugees, saying "we've already done enough for the refugees," PANA reports.
* The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced yesterday that the ADFL had granted permission for ICRC flights to various locations in eastern Zaire, and that the ICRC planned to go to Kalima as soon as possible. The ICRC also plans to help at least 25,000 displaced Zaireans in Kisangani get back home - many of them come from Goma and Bukavu. With the Zairean Red Cross, the ICRC will set up a Red Cross message service to link up the displaced with their families left behind in the east. The ICRC expects the relocation of the displaced to be a "massive operation". The organization also plans assistance to refugees and displaced people in South Kivu.
The ICRC statement says that access to detainees held by the ADFL "has become an utmost priority". The ADFL granted a "general authorization" earlier in the year, ICRC states, but "the visits have not materialized so far". The ICRC says that "large numbers" of people have been arrested following the fall of Kisangani to ADFL rebels.
* Some 200 Zairean government soldiers who fled the ADFL offensive in eastern Zaire have joined Ugandan Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels operating in western Uganda, according to today's state-owned New Vision newspaper. The ADF rebels have been destablising the Kasese area of Kabarole district in Uganda since November 1996, using bases in Zaire and in the Ruwenzori Mountains. Recently they have come under pressure as the result of offensives by the Ugandan army in the Ruwenzoris and the loss of bases in Zaire in areas now under ADFL control.
* A reshuffle in the Rwandan government has re-appointed the president, vice-president, prime minister and foreign minister, but has replaced the Minister of Interior, Communal Development and Social Reintegration with Shaikh Abdul Karim Harerimana, formerly civil service minister, according to Radio Rwanda, monitored by BBC. Ignace Karuhije, prefect of Ruhengeri provice in northwestern Rwanda has been dismissed by the Office of the Prime Minister, the state Rwandan News Agency also reported today. The report said his "incompetence and inability to contain the insecurity, which has continued to deteriorate" in the region led to his dismissal. The report stated that over 100 people had been killed in insecurity connected with the ex-Rwandan Armed Forces and Interahamwe in Ruhengeri since the beginning of the year. The UN Human Rights Field Operation for Rwanda, by contrast, reported earlier this month that 228 people had been killed in Ruhengeri in January alone.
* An estimated 5,000 Zairean refugees have arrived in Zambia's Northern and Luapula Provinces since the start of the crisis in eastern Zaire. Some 2,000 of these have settled in a camp established by the Government of Zambia with assistance from relief agencies including UNHCR, WFP, MSF-Belgium, the Zambian Red Cross and Caritas. The other 3,000 refugees are believed to have either blended in with local communities or to have travelled across Zambia to re-enter Zaire further south through the Copperbelt province. The attention of UN agencies in Zambia is currently focussed on the situation in Shaba province in Zaire, with concern that ADFL movements towards Lubumbashi could prompt an influx of Zairean refugees into Zambia's Copperbelt province. Lubumbashi, capital of Shaba, is home to an estimated 586,000 people.
Nairobi, 28 March 1997, 13:50 GMT
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Date: Fri, 28 Mar 1997 16:57:33 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <email@example.com> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 138 for 28 Mar 1997 97.3.28 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970328165306.6902V-ength: 6467
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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