Great Lakes: IRIN Update 142, 4/3/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 142, 4/3/97

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

Tel: +254 2 622147
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IRIN Emergency Update No. 142 on the Great Lakes (Thursday 3 April 1997)

* Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko yesterday approved by decree the appointment of Etienne Tshisekedi wa Mulumba as Prime Minister. Tshisekedi, veteran opponent of Mobutu has offered six cabinet positions to the rebel Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL), including the ministries of defence and foreign affairs. The ADFL promptly rejected the offer. Regarding talks expected to begin in South Africa, Tshisekedi said at a press conference today that he did not "see the use of the meeting." "Kabila is my brother. I do not need any intermediary to meet him," he is reported to have said, whilst congratulating the rebels on their successes. Meanwhile, the government delegation to the talks is expected to arrive in South Africa tonight. ADFL radio announced yesterday that talks would start on Saturday in Pretoria.

* The ICRC added its voice yesterday to demands that refugees between Kisangani and Ubundi should not be forced to move any further. Any such movement would lead to the "deaths of thousands of people", a statement released last night says. The situation is "truly alarming", the ICRC states, requesting the ADFL to grant unrestricted access to the victims. The ICRC also said that the plight of the refugees should not overshadow that of tens of thousands of other conflict victims scattered all over southern Zaire. The US government is pressing ADFL rebels to accept UNHCR plans for repatriation of Rwandan refugees by road and air via Kisangani.

Large groups of Rwandan refugees, many of whom are in appalling condition, between Ubundu and Kisangani are located at two main points: 50,000 at Kasesi (between 27 and 31 kms from Kisangani) and about 30,000 at Biaro (41 kms from Kisangani). Four hundred of the weakest refugees are reported to have died 82 kms from Kisangani in the last two weeks of March. Another four hundred remain and are being assisted by MSF.

* Despite Zairean defence ministry claims to have re-taken Moba on Lake Tanganyika (a claim denied by the ADFL), some reports from other parts of Zaire indicate that Zairean Armed Forces (FAZ) are in retreat on other fronts. Humanitarian sources report looting by soldiers in Lodja, about 260 kms west of Kindu.

* Rwandan refugees are reported to be in Ikela, 300 kms southwest of Kisangani (about 4,000) and in Mbuji-Mayi (about 2,000). Up to 8,000 have continued to the southwest beyond Mbuji-Mayi to Luiza, which is less than 100 kms from the Angola border.

* "Le Tempete des Tropiques", a Kinshasa newspaper yesterday repeats reports from various sources that ADFL rebels are confiscating private means of communciation (telephones and radios) in areas under their control, particularly Goma.

* Due to a slowdown in refugee arrivals from Zaire and Burundi, two holding centres in Kigoma town, western Tanzania, have been closed down, UNHCR reported yesterday. UNHCR is preparing a programme to repatriate within three months 50,000 of the 95,000 Zairean refugees in Tanzania, almost all of whom fled the Zairean conflict across Lake Tanganyika by boat. About 4,000 Zaireans (1,000 in Lugufu and 3,000 in Nyarugusu) have so far said they want to return to Zaire. [A map of the camps in the Kigoma region is available from IRIN by e-mail or on DHA's ReliefWeb site: ]

* UNHCR reports that a military court in Burundi has convicted 10 soldiers in connection with the killings of 122 Burundian refugees expelled from Tanzania in mid-January, They were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to five months. Two other soldiers were acquitted.

* A joint WFP-FAO assessment mission in Burundi has found "dangerously unsanitary conditions" in regroupment camps in Karuzi province. The UN Humaniatrian Coordinator has named WFP as the lead agency to respond to a potentially "catastrophic" situation. A nutritional survey by MSF-Belgium indicates a global malnutrition rate of 18.7% and severe malnutrition at 4.9%. There are 16 regroupment camps in Karuzi with a total population of approximately 98,000. Conditions in another regroupment camps visited by UN officials in Kayanza, while better than those in Karuzi, "could rapidly deteriorate", the UN Humanitarian Coordinator reports. The UN's official policy on regroupment has been communicated to the Burundian prime minister in a letter of 20 March.

* Burundian Foreign Minister Luc Rukingama implied at a press conference yesterday that the diplomatic indicident which Rwanda has recently complained about involved the search of a Rwandan diplomat's luggage at the Bujumbura airport. Rukingama also said that the Burundian authorities had not been officially informed of the postponement of the next Arusha summit scheduled for next week and said "we hope the next summit is organized as soon as possible and that sanctions against our country are reviewed," reported Burundi radio yesterday.

* UNHCR reports that as of March 26, 44,000 Burundian refugees remain in Zaire, 9,000 in Rwanda and 281,000 in Tanzania.

* Rwandan radio, monitored by BBC, reported yesterday that five people were massacred and five kidnapped early in the morning of 2 April. The attack, in Kinigi commune, Ruhengeri province targeted "1959" (old caseload) returnees. The army is searching for the attackers. In another incident in Ruhengeri, the report continues, fighting between security forces and "armed criminals" resulted in three killed and the capture of three guns, an anti-tank mine and two grenades. Ruhengeri has been the province most affected by violence in Rwanda since the beginning of the year.

* Flooding in Tanzania has killed 46 people and left 3,000 homeless, Radio Tanzania reported yesterday. The floods were reported in the southeastern coastal Kilwa district over the weekend.

Nairobi, 3 April 1997, 15:45 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: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 18:53:13 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 142 for 3 Apr 1997 97.4.3 Message-ID: <>

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

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