Great Lakes: IRIN Update 139 for 31 Mar 1997 97.3.31

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 139 for 31 Mar 1997 97.3.31

Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
for the Great Lakes

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

IRIN Emergency Update No. 139 on the Great Lakes (Saturday 29 - Monday 31 March 1997)

* Rebels of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) have ordered some 20,000 refugees who have taken refuge at Lula, 7 kms south of Zaire's third largest city Kisangani, to move 25 kms further south, away from the city. The ADFL claims that armed elements among the refugees pose a military threat, while the regrouping of refugees near Kisangani detracts from the plight of the displaced Zaireans. Around 100,000 refugees, many of them malnourished, exhausted and very sick, have set up makeshift camps between seven and 40 kms south of Kisangani after leaving Ubundu ten days ago. Many of the strongest are heading towards Kisangani. At least 500 refugees have died since arriving at the village of Ubilo, 82 kms south of Kisangani on 16 March, reports AFP. A train load of food aid, medical and other supplies reached a point 41 kms south of Kisangani on Sunday, but aid agencies have been denied access to Lula for food aid delivery. Many refugees say they want to repatriate to Rwanda and UNHCR has appealed to donors for assistance to fly the most vulnerable directly home. A UNHCR official said that with five planes, between 1,000 and 1,500 refugees could be moved daily. ADFL permission pending, the rest of the refugees will be transported overland along the Kisangani-Lubutu-Bukavu axis route. UNHCR had asked that the refugees be repatriated via Kisangani, but the ADFL has refused.

* The ADFL is prepared to begin talks with the Zairean government "as from Thursday", but will not share power, ADFL "justice minister", Kongolo Mwenze, announced in Goma on Sunday. Mwenze said that negotiations would focus on preparations for a meeting between ADFL leader, Laurent-Desire Kabila and Zaire's ailing President Mobutu Sese Seko. He added that a cease-fire would depend on the talks. "We still consider ourselves at war and our troops are advancing normally," Mwenze told reporters. The talks are expected to be held in South Africa. Zaire's government has not commented on the announcement.

* Relief workers and other sources said at the weekend that Kasenga, a town near the Zambian border some 216 kms northeast of Zaire's second largest city, Lubumbashi, fell to the ADFL on Friday, reports AFP. However, according to the Kenyan Times, the ADFL attacked the town but had not entered. Zairean troops reportedly fled on Friday following clashes with local people said to be sympathetic to the ADFL. Government officials, meanwhile, have continued to dismiss the claim and say they are attempting to retake the town of Baraka on Lake Tananyika. Heavy fighting has been reported around the town of Moba in Shaba province. Sources say that Moba would be the likely launching point for an ADFL advance on Lubumbashi.

Despite the advance of ADFL troops, Lubumbashi is undergoing a small economic boom; shops are filled with South African imports and beer consumption has doubled - a sign of consumer confidence and optimism, reports Reuters. Shaba's mayor, Kyungu wa Kumwanza, said that the people of Shaba egarly await the arrival of Kabila.

* Former Zairean prime minister and Mobutu supporter, Jean Nguz A Karl-I-Bond, told his followers at the weekend to "no longer obey the regime" and said that he was quitting as leader of a coalition of political parties close to Mobutu. Karl-I-Bond said that he had withdrawn his support after Mobutu reappointed Kyungu Qu Mwanza as governor of Shaba province. Mwanza was ousted in 1991 after friction between Shaba and East Kasai natives. AFP reports that Karl-I-Bond, who hails from Shaba, urged his supporters to welcome Kabila into Lubumbashi.

* The heads of the Catholic and Uganda churches in Uganda have called for an end to the hostilities in Zaire. In seperate Easter messages, the church heads said that the conflict had caused suffering to the people of Rwanda, Zaire, Burundi, Sudan and Uganda. They were joined in their plea by the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Frederic Cardinal Etsohou who also appealed on Sunday for an end to the conflict. * A bomb exploded in a building close to a customs warehouse at Kinshasa airport in the early hours of the morning, killing one man and seriously injuring another person. Until three days ago, the building had housed an office of Zaire's military intelligence services. Sources told AFP that it was likely that the man who died either carried or planted the bomb. The bomb is believed to be the work of disgruntled employees of the intelligence services rather than a terrorist attack.

* Reuters reported that Tutsi herdsmen moving back to Mushaki district in eastern Zaire, 35 kms west of Goma, say Zairean Hutu farmers who also lived in the area have either fled or been killed by ADFL rebels. ADFL forces have repeatedly denied reports of human rights abuses and massacres of Hutu refugees and local inhabitants. The UN Rapporteur for Human Rights in Zaire, Roberto Garreton recently returned from a three day visit to eastern Zaire. A report is expected soon.

* Reinforcements have been sent to Kenya's Marsabit district following a week of fighting between Ethiopian bandits and Kenyan security forces. At least 57 people were killed and another 28 wounded. A police spokesman said that the dead included 16 police officers and 41 civilians, eleven of them children. Some 4,000 animals were reported stolen by the attackers. The fighting started when raiders attacked a nomadic village on the Kenyan side of the border shooting dead 36 people. Unofficial sources have put the total death toll at far higher numbers.

* At least 13 people have died in the week-long torrential rains which wreaked havoc throughout Tanzania. AFP reports that eight of the victims died in the southern town of Mbeya after being buried alive in a landslide triggered by heavy rains.

* The Tanzanian Government told a press conference in Dar es Salaam that Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete will hold talks with ADFL leader Laurent Kabila to discuss a bilateral accord to repatriate Zairean refugees, reported Kenya's 'Daily Nation'. Since October 1996, some 70,000 Zairean refugees have taken refuge in Kigoma, Tanzania alone.

* Zambian newspapers reported yesterday that more Zairean soldiers and refugees have crossed into Zambia ahead of a rebel advance. The Times of Zambia said that a number of heavily armed soldiers had grouped at Makandwe fishing camp. The newspaper also said that more than 1,000 refugees had fled into Zambia over the past few days, following the alleged capture of Kasenga town by the ADFL, and were being housed in a local primary school. Zambia already has more than 6,000 refugees, mostly from Zaire. Meanwhile, 20 trucks and trailers said to belong to Mobutu's son, Nzanga are stuck at the Zambian border town of Livingstone after Zimbabwean customs officials refused them entry. The trucks were heading for South Africa. Nairobi, 31 March 1997, 18:30 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. Quotations or extracts from this report should include attribution to the original sources mentioned, not simply "DHA".]

Date: Mon, 31 Mar 1997 17:37:54 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 139 for 31 Mar 1997 97.3.31 Message-ID: <>

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

Previous Menu Home Page What's New Search Country Specific