Great Lakes: IRIN Update 145, 4/8/97

Great Lakes: IRIN Update 145, 4/8/97


Department of Humanitarian Affairs

Integrated Regional Information Network

for the Great Lakes

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IRIN Emergency Update No. 145 on the Great Lakes (Tuesday 8 April 1997)

* Fighting was reported on the outskirts of Zaire's second largest city, Lubumbashi overnight and again this morning. A curfew from 7pm to 6am has been declared. Zairean government troops were reported to be resisting an attack by the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) about 15 kms outside the town. Rebels hold Kipushi, the closest town on the border with Zambia. Zambian ZNBC radio reported today that Zambian commandos have been put on alert along the border areas. An IPS report from Chililabombwe, Zambia, states the expatriates are leaving Lubumbashi and arriving in Zambia but reports no significant new refugee exodus. Contrary to earlier reports, Belgium's defence minister announced today that Zambia had refused permission for Belgian troops to operate in Zambia in support of a possible evacuation.

* In South Africa, talks adjourned today between negotiators from the Zairean government and the ADFL. Negotiations chaired by Joint UN/OAU Special Representative Mohamed Sahnoun and supported by the South African government have so far not come up with an agreement on a ceasefire, South African Deputy President Thabo Mbeki told a press conference today. The participants are due tomorrow (Wednesday) to give their first press briefing since talks began. Mbeki described the talks as "useful" and said the representatives would be consulting with their leaders.

* Zairean Prime Minister Etienne Tshisekedi's Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party has called for a general "mobilization" in support of the veteran opposition leader. Tshisekedi, who was expected to formally take up his post as Prime Minister today, faces a threat of dismissal by both opposition and Mobutist parliamentarians. ADFL leader Laurent Desire Kabila today also called on Tshisekedi to quit and "leave the Mobutu camp", AFP reports. The mobilization will include marches and "occupation of streets" according to a communique obtained by AFP.

* During a visit to Mbuji-Mayi, the diamond capital of Kasai, rebel leaders stressed its economic significance. Laurent Kabila arrived by air on Monday, accompanied by his "justice commissioner", Mwenze Kongolo. Kongolo said that the capture of Mbuji-Mayi was important "in money terms because we have deprived Mobutu of his power to fight us", Reuters reports. Residents of Mbuji-Mayi told Reuters that about 3,000 Rwandans, both refugees and ex-FAR were heading towards Kananga, 140 kms to the west. Another group of about 4,000 ex-FAR are reported to be in Ikela, about 300 kms southwest of Kisangani, according to Zairean newspaper Elima yesterday.

* UNHCR is currently negotiating with the Rwandan government details of plans for the reception of Rwandan returnees due to be airlifted home from Ubundu-Kisangani, Zaire. WFP told IRIN today it was prepared to make three aircraft available to the planned repatriation effort. Two IL-76 and one C-130 cargo aircraft could be used to shuttle food from either Uganda or Tanzania to Kisangani and then return carrying people. WFP estimates up to 500 per day could be transported in this way.

Five trucks have for the first time made road deliveries of food from Kisangani to the refugees at Kasese, 29 kms south of Kisangani. About 120 MTs can be delivered by train only every three to four days, so the opening up of a road route for relief aid is a welcome addition to transport options. WFP aims to raise the daily food ration from 1,200 to 1,850 kilocalories, and needs to deliver at least 50 MTs per day. Logistics capacity is also required to move non-food items. Beyond Kilometre 82 towards Ubundu, WFP, Zairean Red Cross and local volunteers have been delivering food to small pockets of refugees by carrying food on their backs.

* UNHCR also reports a need to transport up to 20,000 displaced Zaireans from Kisangani to towns in eastern Zaire, primarily Goma and Bukavu. A group of 3,500 at the airport are likely to be moved as a priority. ICRC has previously annouced plans to mount a major operation to relocate the the displaced in Kisangani.

* The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Zaire Roberto Garreton has called for a UN Commission of Inquiry to be set up to investigate killings by the ADFL forces in eastern Zaire. His 16-page report, presented to the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva today lists 40 sites of possible massacres or serious human rights violations, and describes visits to mass graves. The report describes a "climate of fear" in which almost all of his informants insisted on anonymity. In his recommendations, Garreton states that violations "are still going on, with complete impunity", and calls for those found responsible to be tried and punished.

* The Coordinator of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), Carl Tinstman, said yesterday that the UN is seeking to "clarify" the Government of Sudan's position on humanitarian operations in areas recently taken over by rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in southern Sudan. The OLS coordinator denied claims made by Sudanese government spokesmen that some recent OLS operations violated both Sudan's sovereignty and agreements with the Government of Sudan concerning OLS. Tinstman reiterated that "all assistance provided through OLS is humanitarian in nature, provided to civilians in need, and is never in any instance 'direct support to the outlaw movement.'"

* Diplomatic and news sources report that the Regional Sanctions Coordinating Committee (RSCC), which oversees sanctions imposed on Burundi by the "Arusha club" of African nations will meet on 16 April. A summit on Burundi, to include Burundian leader Pierre Buyoya, had previously been announced for April 14.

* A spokesman for the rebel Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) said in London that the LRA would no longer abduct children as part of their "tactics of recruitment". The state-owned New Vision reported that Dr James Alfred Obita made the pledge at a peace meeting of the Acholi ethnic group (from which many LRA fighters are drawn) in London. A UNICEF/World Vision report (mentioned in IRIN Update 144) recently described the shocking abuses thousands of abducted children have suffered at the hands of the LRA.

Nairobi, 8 April 1997, 15:45 GMT


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Date: Tue, 8 Apr 1997 18:49:50 +0300 From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <> Subject: Great Lakes: IRIN Update 145 for 8 Apr 1997 97.4.8 Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.95.970408184540.1335m-Length: 7046

Editor: Ali Dinar,